Interview with King Diamond conducted by Bill Zebub for Issue #31 of The Grimoire of Exalted Deeds magazine.
I don’t know if the Abigail 25th anniversary edition is going to be different from the recent remaster. Do you know if it will
have the same bonus tracks, or the same audio processing?
That’s what i heard so far. There have been ideas thrown around. What the end result is going to be, I’m not 100% sure right now. There WAS talk about getting it remastered by a topnotch guy. Abigail falls short a little bit. That was unfortunately the one that i feel was not given the right treatment when they did remaster
them. That one turned so bright that it hurts my ears to listen to it. That’s the one where I would say “Well, the older version sounds better.” Now we get the chance to do it right.
I was told that Abigail and Them came out when they were mastered for vinyl, and what that means is that the equalization favored the high end because bass makes wider grooves on the record, and that can limit space.
Well, it sounds fine on the original. What about the others from the same period of time? Right there it kind of contradicts itself. That
doesn’t make sense.
If anyone knows, it’s you, because you have a reputation for being meticulous.
I was listening back and forth, that and the original, when I got it. There was a lot of time pressure on that. I realize that. Things HAD to be done. There was a deadline. So there was no means, time-wise, to go back and re-do it. That’s why, if they remaster, give it to a top-notch guy. If they can’t get the actual master tapes, which I doubt. Well, they might have them still. But if they can’t find them, they can definitely do a killer job just grabbing the old original CD and do it from that. They can get it up to a decent volume without jeopardizing the frequencies.
I had asked you if you had ever been tempted to go back and not just to adjust the equalization, but to actually re-mix the multitrack tapes and remaster in the true sense. You told me that once you do something, you leave it, because you would never be satisfied, no matter what is changed.
Abigail I would never touch. That album has the right feel for what the album’s about, for the TIME. If I had to do that album today it would sound totally different, of course. There’s a different sound that you get today. The things you CAN do today… The Puppetmaster, and even the last live album – those have got some REALLY good sounds, in my opinion. They have a nice spectrum of top to bottom, clarity, and authenticity. Those, I’m very happy with, and also the old Abigail. For that time, it was exactly what it should be. Everything else – I can go in and pick shit apart – high hat too much to one side for my liking, or too crisp, or it interferes too much with the attack of the snare – there are so many things. There are certain blends of some of the choir parts that I would like to change to feature a different part in it that would probably give more of that atmosphere that I was after. So many things. i can go in and change ALL the albums, except Abigail , The Puppetmaster, and the very last live album. Everything else I could definitely go in and go nuts with, and I would probably finish up with something that I would probably, two years from now, NOT be satisfied with. (laughs) It’s a healthy hing to not be satisfied with what you do. That makes you search
continuously for making things better.
Of all the King Diamond albums, did you spend the most time in post-production on Abigail, mixing everything and applying filters
I don’t think so.
What about the actual recording? Was that your longest stretch in a recording studio?
No. (laughs) I can tell you, if you took a metronome and ran it with those songs, you will HEAR that it did not take that long to do. (laughs) There are passages that are speeding up, and then there are passages that suddenly drag down. You can go from a fast verse that
goes faster and faster toward the end of it, then comes this heavy chorus – WHOA! – What a tempo drop! These days, we like to be in time with the songs.
You play with a click track?
And you did not back then?
No. (laughs) You can hear that, big time. If you put it to that test, you can really hear it. Some of those things I remember from back then…
Andy was usually the one who would play a cue guitar in a little booth somewhere in the studio. Mickey would have it in his
headphones. Andy would probably play a little sloppy sometimes, not out of bad intent, but Mickey knew all the parts – he just needed something to show him where he was in the song. So then you don’t have to be that precise because it’s not the real guitar you’re recording. Suddenly Mickey would stop and say, “what the hell?”
And Andy would say, “You’re speeding like crazy!” “I wasn’t speeding! you’re just playing sloppy now!” Those whose-fault-is-it kind of things… When we record today, there is nothing to discuss because you have to be on the beat. That’s the end of it. There is a way to set it up like that so that it’s correct. So those kind of things made for it not taking any longer. It was a very LIVE feel doing it that way. But still, it was an instrument at a time. We never recorded where everybody stands together and plays. Then it would probably take longer than any other album because, with that style of music,
someone would make a mistake through a song. It would just take too long.
The strange this is, Abigail has been hailed by musicians. If musicians themselves are applauding that work, is there sorcery that makes them overlook what you just said? You know how anal some musicians can be when critiquing another artist.
It’s not a bad thing that it speeds up. Sometimes you like that live feel. It’s the kind of feel that you have when you are in a live situation. Most songs, played live, are faster than the studio albums. That’s just the extra adrenaline pumping from having an audience in your face. You totally let go. You get caught up in the mood of the whole thing. It’s not a bad thing. It just gives a different feel. The songs themselves – the writing and the performances – that’s what
made that album what it is. There are also other things. It was the first of the genre where there’s a full-concept horror story with metal music. It had not been done before, ever, by anyone. A lot of bands have done a concept album, but never a horror story. The style was very unique. It was an early part of the career when people had not gotten used to that style. So the album had everything going for it. It’s much easier to make an impact with an album like that at THAT time, than twenty years later when everyone knows your style. They expect you to stay in your style. I would never do a
country album, of course. It’s such a trademark style. You can always tell when it’s us. Fans would not want us to go away from that. The
trademark style has given us a longevity that very few bands experience. It’s still going very well, as you know. Because it’s such a unique style, we were never affected by any trends. We just plow right through on our own little road. But then, we were never right there on the bandwagon when something was very popular and
able to sell a platinum album. That has never meant that much to me. You also know that. The pleasure itself of playing and being able to
have my hobby as a livelihood… I don’t need sixteen Ferrari’s in my garage. It would be nice, but I don’t have those kind of values. I never had. I guess I’m a lot easier to satisfy. That’s the best road for me – the longevity and still being able to have that fun. I have more fun playing those old songs live today than it was when the album came out. It’s a more enjoyable situation now because the guys that are around are the best I’ve ever played with in my life. There’s that
100% trust. They’re not going to screw up. It has to be something serious for that to happen, like an amp blowing up, but we have one of the best crews in the business – I trust them so much that i don’t even o soundchecks anymore, and I have perfect sound… well, as much as is possible. There can be rooms that are weird, like having carpets on the walls. It sucks the sound in. You feel like the whole room you’re playing in died. Nothing bounces off the walls. That’s a weird live feel. I like to feel the reverb of the room and hear a little of the P.A. and the delays it throws out. I feed a lot off that stuff. When the sound is dead, it’s so tough, and the crew can’t fix THAT. But everything is done so pro now, and that give more energy to give a
party party instead of concentrating and thinking about the next part that has problems. There’s not so much to worry about, like in the early days when every man was pretty much his own roadie. That means a lot. I look forward to the high passages today. I know my voice can handle it, unless I’m sick. The very high, long notes, in “Eye of the Witch” for instance; I look forward to that because I can feel like I can show off in some ways. I really do. I feel confident I can hit those notes. Five years ago, when I got to that part, I would wish that I could hear myself properly. It’s not that i can’t make the note, it’s just so that i can hear the note so I can. A lot of those problems I eliminated now. That’s a big part of why we still want to go on the road. All other aspects, you know, I hate. It makes me want to puke to sit on a bus for eight hours, rolling thumbs. You can only do so much of one or another thing. They have only so much DVD’s on a bus. And i can’t sleep on a bus when it rolls. Then there’s bad food, and sometimes no food at all. Lack of sleep. I usually get six hours
every twenty-four hours, but it’s divided into two or three little go’s of an hour and a half or two hours each. Not a whole lot of time to enjoy. The only time I enjoy is that hour and forty minutes on the stage. That’s the highlight every day.
You amass quite a sleep debt. At the end of the tour, do you sleep for sixteen hours straight?
When I get home, I can tell you, I don’t want to talk to friends. I don’t want the phone to ring. I don’t have the energy to speak to a grocery
clerk. I need groceries, the house is empty, and they’re always friendly. “Hey! How was the tour?” That’s the last thing I want to hear. I want to see my bed. I’m tired of sleeping in a soft bed, then a hard, bed, then a soft bed, then a bed where something sticks up in my back. I can tell you, when you get into those kinds of scenarios, you’re always sore.
Getting back to the speeding up and slowing down, maybe musicians hailed it because they considered it to be dynamic.
I think it’s the songwriting and the performances. It’s very melodic and still heavy.. It’s raw. It’s got mood. That’s why it’s one of the albums that I am most satisfied with. And The Puppetmaster too. The moods in that album are much stronger than on Abigail. But it’s an album that came so many years later, and it will NEVER be hailed among the fans as up there with Abigail. It’s a real treat for me because I know how much it takes for an album to be so high in a fan’s opinion. It means that that album has to be a lot better. That’s the pure fact of it. It’s hard to compete with something that was so unique at that time. It was a shock for a lot of people to hear that style for the first time. A lot of fans have said that to me. It’s hard to
compete with yourself in that respect. The things with Abigail that were the hardest to do were not the recording stuff. You have to
remember that, at that time, we were all in the same country, or pretty much. We lived so close that rehearsals were possible. We rehearsed more, together, you can say. There are better musicians now that don’t need that rehearsal time, but back then, the songs were rehearsed by the whole band before we ever went in and
recorded them. With Mercyful Fate, we had even played some of the songs live before recording them. Sometimes for a year we played some of the songs that were later recorded. That’s not the
case later on in the career. We’re spread out all over the world, you know. So that didn’t take as long as one might think And the mixing
process didn’t take as long as you would imagine simply because we didn’t have the means for it to take long. There was no automation. We didn’t have the chance of working for two hours getting specific reverb to open up in the right way in those five words at the end of verse 2, or whatever, and program it in so that it does it itself so we don’t have to worry about it. We spent time on it, came up with ideas, and now it does it by itself. Back then, we had to do it all manually. We were all in on the mix. Everybody’s fingers were on some kind of buttons on the mixing board. That’s why we delegated
in a smart way… and said, “No Mickey, you’re not going to control the snare drum, and Andy, you’re not going to do your own solo.” He’d argue, “Well I know how loud..” No, no, no. Let Mickey do your solo, and you can do Mickey’s snare, and so on. There were little marks. We had done test after test run. How loud should that solo be? Ok, here’s the mark. Don’t go over that mark. And you can be sure that Mickey wouldn’t go over the mark, and visa versa with Andy going over Mickey’s snare. You could trust better , otherwise you would have to
do it again and again and again if people weren’t kept in control.
You should never let people edit their own work.
No, not in that scenario. it was 100% analog. You couldn’t start in the middle. You would have to do the whole thing again. So in that respect, it was a little faster, mixing it. First of all, we didn’t have the capability to go so much in depth with every single little thing. There were not enough hands to do it. You had to do what you needed to do, on the fly. Let the thing roll. So there were limits there. Today there are practically no limits. You could sit and spend three hours on the reverb for five words, and we did, on Puppermaster.
Getting back to the timing thing, there have been Mercyful Fate songs, like when you sing “It is so much colder in here.” That was done purely by feel, not by metronome. Would you make a song like that on a future album?
It’s a different matter for me, as a vocalist. I don’t sing to a metronome. I sing by total feel, no matter. I don’t think that I have ever needed a metronome in a break. If you listen to “No More Me” it’s full of that type of stuff. Those total emotional, feeling-out breaks. It’s nothing but. of course, that song was recorded with a
metronome, but for the vocalist, it’s a totally different matter because you are free. You can go over beats and this and that, and then pick it up, being on a beat later. The more precise they
(the musicians) are, the more free I feel. If they started suddenly speeding up at the end of a verse, and I had to do something, it might not leave me enough space to do an emotional thing. That emotional thing, to fit, would have to be rushed, and that wouldn’t sound right. But when I have that solid tempo going, then I don’t even have to think about it. It’s almost how I feel pitch, for instance. It’s totally automatic, I found out. When Mercyful Fate was playing shows with
Metallica in Europe in ‘99, there was a show in Milan where the Metallica guys invited Hank and I to go up and do the whole medley from the Garage Inc. album, all twelve minutes, or whatever, as one of the encores. At first, I was like, “Doesn’t Metallica play detuned a little bit? How the hell am I going to sing that?” I had sung some of that stuff earlier that day, but in our key,and now I had to drop it half a note, or whatever it is. That scared me to death. How is that going to work out? But once we started, I didn’t even feel that I was singing it differently.. It actually became a little easier, singing like a semitone lower. It’s a matter of feeling the key inside. The same thing with the beats, when they’re going. I never ever count anything. when there’s a solo going, I don’t stand there and count. “Ok, that was three rounds, four rounds. Ok, now I have to start singing again here.” Never. It’s all feel. But, the guys always play the same solos, and if they were improvising half the time, good luck to me, because I would have
nothing to go by. I know those solos by heart. That was one thing funny about listening to the live album. I could picture exactly where I was on stage the whole time, and then I realized certain things as we were mixing it. If Andy is playing a solo, I will usually be closer to him so I hear his solo clearest. That’s what I go by, since I don’t count. But by the end, when the verse starts, I am on the opposite side where I could hear Mike’s rhythm guitar more, or visa versa. Andy is my favorite guitar player of all time, so I am not saying anything bad about him, but he has this tendency, live, when he finishes a fast
lick or whatever – he will hold a long feedback note. Listen and you will hear that. In those places, I had to get away from him. I can’t stand over there by the feedback note because I have nothing to go by. That dawned on me while we were mixing. If they, for some reason, screw up in the middle of the solo. or the amp goes out just for five seconds, I’m screwed completely. I will not know when to come in. I will not know where the other guys are. was it five or six
rounds that they played? I hadn’t been paying attention to how many rounds. Suddenly it changes key and goes into the verse, and I can’t
pick it up there.
You just aim the mike at the crowd and the crowd starts singing.
(laughs) They ALWAYS know. What do you call those… in theaters, you have this little old man sitting in a box, with a book, speaking to the actors. Whatever he is called, the audience, the first row there, they are the best of that. I’ve had to use it. I admit that. Those situations… what the hell are you going to do? Suddenly you’re
two rounds in. The lyrics don’t just sit like that., like “Ok, I’ll pick up from the second line.” No. I pick it up by cue words. I know the first few
words of each verse. The rest is automatic. I don’t even think about what I’m singing. When the cue words are NOT there, I can’t just pick it up. It’s impossible. Then I look down at the audience, at those desperate eyes… it’s rare, but it does happen, and God,do I feel miserable afterwards! I swear, if I didn’t have that white on I would be glowing red like the reindeer’s nose. That is embarrassing. the same thing if someone is out of tune. You will hear that on bootlegs. There could be one guitar not matching. That’s very difficult for a singer. If a guy’s out of tune somewhere and I start hearing him, I follow him with that automatic pitch. I sound off, but I’m dead-on with the guy I can hear. You’re lucky in the studio. You have all the time in the world. With Mercyful Fate, when we played Satan’s Fall live.everybody’s like, “King! You’ve GOT to talk longer before Satan’s Fall! We all need time to tune perfectly.” By the end of that song, everyone’s a little off, each other. They have no time to tune for twelve minutes. That’s a problem when you play live, in a hot
sweaty humid room. The guitar will slowly drift out of tune. It’s got to be dead-on in the beginning and you will not be that far in the end. At the end of it there’s a lot of single-note playing and harmonies.
i have to sign to them. Oh man! That’s the real world of a musician. There are lot of things that no one knows about and can’t see unless you tell them. This is how hard it is.
I recently unearthed a tape that I had a long time ago. It’s an interview that Ole did with you that was done before “Fatal Portrait” was released. You were actually playing guitar in that interview, giving fans a chance to hear riffs that were on the forthcoming album. It was pretty strange hearing you play guitar. Is there a secret part on any album in which you actually play guitar?
Well… (in a nonchalant tone) there’s a few places.
Ha! I knew it! It was strange to hear you play guitar. But it was also strange, sort of comical, to hear you and Ole talk to each other in such a respectful manner, as if you were perfect strangers.
(laughs) The good old days. People didn’t know us yet.
Wow. I’ve just unearthed some trivia! King has actually played guitar on the albums!
Yeah, here and there, bits and pieces. Most has been in scenarios where I had a very crooked finger position that was impossible for
the other person to do. I use some very odd chords sometimes. Sometimes it’s a feel thing. Each player has different techniques. I have a very unique way that dampen the strings when I want these (vocalizes what the guitar sounds like). it has sometimes been very hard to get out. I want them sounding a certain way, fat but still very crisp. It’s not all that easy. I have my style. I play both up and down strokes. A lot of guitarists play only down strokes. It’s different
techniques. There are some things that are awkward for Andy to play, with the up/down strokes, but that’s what it demands or you’re
simply not going to get the right mood out of the riff. There were some places here and there where I’d do that little bridge, or this or that. One thing that was cool about The Puppetmaster is that Andy has never gotten that close to my expression of my songs, the way I
play them on the demos. I have all the demos here where I play all the guitars. There’s a drum machine, and I simulate the bass by playing the guitar through an octave. Some of the keyboards
turn out to be the real ones. There, you can REALLY hear my style of playing. It’s demos, so it’s not that perfect, of course, but the overall feel of everything is exactly there the way I want others to play it. Sometimes I play little pieces (on the album) where there’s certain
kinds of chords, or certain kinds of structures that just doesn’t fit the other player’s technique at all. Maybe one day I should release the
demos where I play everything. (laughs)
I’m very upset with the security you have when you record. Nothing leaks out. It’s very frustrating for a King Diamond fan.
Well maybe one day I will release them.You do hear me play guitar on one of those albums with bonus stuff. For “Them,” I think. I play one of the guitars on the rehearsals because Pete Black wasn’t there at the time. That rehearsal tape, that’s Andy and me playing guitars.
Abigail, to my ears, has the most amount of choir, of all your albums.
I’m not sure you’re right. Not with the backings ,and how many there are, and how layered. It sounds like that. It’s probably the album with the most REVERB on it ever. It does make everything sound more
like we recorded in a church almost.
A Satanic church.
Of course! Are you kidding? (he pauses, and then laughs) Do you know what I am saying? Some of the stuff on “Conspiracy” – there’s so much (choir) on there, and later on too. There’s lots of that stuff. You can go all the way up the albums. There’s tons of layered vocals. But everything is dryer. Even if the guitars are reverbed more than usual, they will create an atmosphere for the vocals, of course. The more swimmy the guitars are, the more swimmy the vocals will sound, even if they don’t have reverb. How you put the whole band in a certain room for the whole duration is something you determine
from the early phase. What kind of room do we want to be in? Then you add more reverb to a certain snare because it has to have a special effect. I’ve gone away from using reverb on my vocals. It’s only used for specific effects. I use delay instead. There’s a delay at all times on my vocals, but you don’t hear it in the music. This is an odd thing, actually, No matter what tempo the song is in, we set the delay at 666 milliseconds. You’re probably thinking I’m lying, but I’m not. That amount of delay time fits ANY of our songs. I don’t like to have that swimming around if there’s a quiet passage, for instance,
where I’m talking, because then it sounds stupid. When I’m playing live, I don’t like a delay hanging on my voice when I’m between songs.
“Thank you very much.. thank you very much (he mocks a repeating echo getting fainter with each cycle). That sounds so stupid in between songs. The same thing for taking parts in music. You kill that delay. But for the singing parts, that’s what’s on my vocals all the time. It’s a cool feel for how we produce the albums today. They are a LOT dryer than back then. When you’re a guitarist, and you try to make out what we’re playing on Abigail, on certain passages you will NEVER know what chords we’re using. you simply can’t hear it clear enough duplicate perfectly.
When did you start producing your own albums?
Well, it started with “Don’t Break the Oath” when we decided we had had enough of feeling like going to a dentist when recording an album. That’s what it felt like. That’s the strongest memory I had on “Melissa.” I felt like being at the dentist’s office, being called in. “Mr.
Peterson?” Then you walked into the control room and were played a song. “What’s this? Where’s THIS, and where is THAT? Why are the
guitars so low? Where is that harmony? This is heavy metal, not the pop you normally do!” Great producer at that time, but he was a pop
producer, actually. That’s what he had done most – Danish pop music. Very good productions. Very skillful guy. We didn’t have any other names of producers. It was probably because of the studio he had. We got a little bit of that taste on the mini LP. I had all of the backing parts ready for that. Those songs were supposed to have the same style of backings as on the “Melissa” album, until I was told “You have two tracks.” You know the story with Hank. He was taking to long. It cost a lot. “I’m sorry, man. This one has got to be IT. Whatever we do now goes on tape and it goes on the album. I don’t care anymore.” Talk about pressure. (laughs) And that’s what happened. So that was the first time we felt these other people in control. And it continued on ‘tile “Don’t Break the Oath.” I had enough. “I’m going to stay here whether you like it or not! When I say turn that keyboard up, I want to hear what it’s like when you move that thing. I want to SEE you move it, not send us out and bring us back in and try to fool us without having moved anything and see if we hear it, because I DO hear it!” So during “Don’t Break the Oath” that’s finally when the band ended up in the control room. So we, of course, got a little bit more experience there. Then when Roberto came in on “Fatal Portrait” and so on, we knew a bit more and were involved the whole way. He had a lot of ideas. He was also a great link between our ideas and how to bring it to tape. That continued for many albums. It was awesome working with him. He and I would sit and play keyboards together. Some of the things on “Conspiracy” and also “On the Eye” was played four-hand, actually. it was him and I. Otherwise we didn’t have enough tracks. (pauses) I forget. Where was I?
About producing your own albums.
(we both laugh) I can’t remember if “Them” was… no, I don’t think “Them” was automated either. There was a part that Andy had forgotten to record. It was a make-or-break riff for “The
Accusation Chair” I think. He was already back in Sweden, and I had to go back and get my guitar and record the part. We were losing time, and we were up against other people who stood outside waiting with all their gear, and we were still mixing the last part. Before that, we must have been mixing for twenty hours straight. I
was so dead, sitting on a chair, listening next to Roberto, and suddenly blacked out and fell forward into the mixing desk and onto the floor. Roberto is like “Go take an hour on the couch! This is no help.” Then we finished later. Some tough times.
Did anything strange ever happen in the studio the way strange things have happened in your apartment in Denmark?
I remember that i almost burned the studio down when we did “Them.” I used to have candles to see my lyrics. Just candles. Nothing
else. I found ways to put them where my lyrics stand was, and it was one of those times when I was so tired that i took a break. There must have been some wind going in there, blowing the candles over towards the lyrics. They were burned! They were gone. I came in there. “It smells smokey in here.” There was a big black spot burned into the floor. I fortunately had copies. (pause) But I don’t think there was a demon in there blowing at it, or something like that. The first time we were in the studio that I KNOW things went haywire was with “Conspiracy.” There was this female second engineer that we barely used. She was the one who was freaked out completely. She was screaming, crying, all kinds of shit, because of what was going on there. That is not a rarity. that is more the norm. SOMETHING will happen. Other people get freaked. I think it was on “House of God” when Kol Marshall was working a little overtime. We were mixing, trying to get done, and we both saw a little man in the doorway. But the weird thing was that i had seen that little man at two in the afternoon, and of course, the whole studio is dark. But I had seen
him there. “Am I THAT fuckin’ tired? This is too weird.” About five hours
later, we’re sitting there. Koll was at the mixing desk. it was across the room, to his left, where that doorway was. I would be sitting, usually facing the console, but from his left side. Suddenly, man, he just got pale, and he totally froze. He was looking over in that direction, and without me even turning my head, I said, “You saw him! I know you saw him!” He’s was like, “This is not
REAL! You CAN’T know that!” I said, “The little man over in the doorway? I know you saw him.” He was totally freaking. He usually closed up the studio by himself, but he was begging me to stay for the rest of the night. (laughs. “You don’t have to leave right now, do you?” That’s why there is a mention in the credits for that. (Ed. – “I
swear I saw the Glitcher! King saw him too”)
I had asked you prior to the Mercyful Fate reunion if you would ever re-do a song. You answered that you are always moving forward, working on new material. When you re-did “Return of the Vampire” I was surprised.
That was a unique experience.
Did it ever cross your mind to do a sort of re-visit album and do the songs from the mini LP, and songs like “Shadow Nights” and
“A Dangerous Nightmare?”
Those were all chopped up into other songs, the last two. But the others – I almost said it before, when we talked about the mini LP and how that was recorded, the other vocals were prepared but never done, and I wonder how those songs would have sounded… maybe I will never know. It all comes down to time, and money too. Is it going to be interesting enough to go in and do those songs? What would it look like to other people if Mercyful Fate does another album in a year or two and we put that in there – would the fans think that we are out of ideas? I always worry, maybe too much, about those things. I worry about what people think. In that respect,
I don’t want to appear pathetic.
Well maybe if I keep asking you to do it every time that I interview you.
(laughs) That’s the reason why “Abigail II” was finally done. Inside, I felt there was so much more I could write about this story. Gramma is one of my all-time favorite characters. I would love to be given permission to do another album with her in it. it would be so cool. I know what the cover would look like. It’s a very passionate inside of me. But if we did that, how would it look? Honestly. Conspiracy, Part III , with Gramma? No matter what the story is about, it would still look like Part III to other people. It’s like, “He has to go all the way back there to get inspiration!” I don’t dare do that. It would have to be fan request, like it was with Abigail II. So many people kept asking me to do another thing that reminds of that, and has that complexity.
How many signatures do you require?
What? (laughs). Two! I really want to do it that bad! (laughs) But seriously, it is like that for me. I don’t want anyone to think that I ran out of ideas. But if that were not the case, I would love to go back and give those songs the full treatment.
Maybe you won’t re-do “Burning the Cross” but is it possible for you to write down the lyrics for me to print? Would that be a pain in the as for you?
Yeah. To find them?
You wouldn’t remember them from hearing the song?
I doubt it. I don’t know how clear it is there on the actual album. (pauses) Maybe after the tour.
Keep that on your list. It will be a treat for old-timers like me.
I think I have it somewhere. I was thinking of it that way, that i wouldn’t have to sit and listen. it was very early-days, as you know.
I’ve heard earlier versions of Satan’s Fall with more aggressive lyrics. You moved away from in-your-face evil in favor of the more mysterious.
It gets old very fast. It doesn’t leave too much to the imagination. Do you like splatter movies or more psychological movies? Which one puts you deeper into a certain mood? The first one is like (makes a gore, splat sound) “That looked cool!’ The other one, you feel uncomfortable for a long time. It’s much bigger impact. To misuse
the word “Satan” does not make you heavier. I think it’s so anti-tough to misuse it. I’ll still use it any day. It’s a very good word. It doesn’t
matter which camp you’re in. That word has a uniform meaning to most people. It gives them immediate association, which to me is not the real meaning at all. Even I see some pictures in my head, even though I know it has nothing to do with that. Do you know what i mean by that? It’s like a label. Like picking up a bottle of Johnny Walker. It gives you something that you don’t have to think too long about. Drink it, and you will like the taste or hate the taste. It depends on the kind of person you are.
One of the things that I heard that I thought was rather shocking, having had grown accustomed to the later style of lyrics, is the an earlier version of “Satan’s Fall” in which you sing, “Satan is better than God.”
I will stand up for any lyrics, ever, because there are meanings behind those things. That thing there is very tongue-in-cheek, of course. I should have chosen better words to make it more lyrical. Well, Satan is, in many situations, a better choice than God. There would be less killing. You know that’s true. The Crusades, whatever. Even if you believed in the worst scenario of Satanism, in what I call the completely distorted fake rituals, if that was all true, it would have hurt so much less than the Crusades. When you just said that line, I immediately got the feel from back then, what I felt inside. But the words,I think, “How fuckin’ primitive!” It’ s like “Walking down the stairs to hell” or something like that. How corny.
You seemed more confrontational back then,
You know also why. There was nothing like that back then.
Attacked from all sides.
Venom didn’t really do that. We were simultaneous, but they had a whole different way of talking about these things. With them, I think, it’s like watching the old Hammer horror movies. It looks cool, sounds cool, but maybe it doesn’t mean as much as was said. I think
Cronos has said that himself sometimes, that you need to take things with a grain of salt and lighten up sometimes. I try to do that too. That’s why sometimes you see the band in Christmas outfits and stuff like that. You have to be able to laugh at yourself. You know there’s a lot of humor on the albums too. It might be a little twisted, but it’s there. back then, I can tell you, English was not that easy for me. I had not traveled much at that time. When we the first
U.S. tour for “Don’t Break the Oath, there were lots of times when I did interviews, and I remember clearly how it was not natural for me to just say things. Like, now, I dream in English. But that’s because I’m in the environment. I only talk Danish when I talk business to Ole, or my mom, or my brother. Everything is English around me.
You are immersed.
Absolutely. But back then, if anyone asked me a question, inside my brain there was this translation going. I translated in my head to Danish. I must have seemed so slow back then because I’d come up with my Danish answer and then translate to English. To say anything took me time. That’s why there are those famous… “sarcophagus” was “sarco-fay-gus.” Then Later on it’s like “I have to sing it the wrong way.” I think about it every time we play that song.
I remember you used to introduce “Into the Coven” as “Into the koh-ven.”
Yeah, well that’s a thing that you can say either way.
If you want to hear something funny, I had never used the word “coven” unless I was mentioning your song, and whenever I said
it, I said it your way, and people were yelling at me to say it right. You messed me up!
But you know what? People came up to me and said the same thing. No, no, no. you can’t be right. That must be wrong because it doesn’t
sound as tough. There’s a big difference there.
Exactly. Getting back to “Burning the Cross,” but not in an annoying way, for the DVD material that might be provided as a bonus, you said you had video footage of Ben Petterson playing. That’s
a treat for all of us who don’t know what he looks like. Did he write “Burning the Cross?”
Yeah, with me. (pause) There should be a good possibility of that early show from ‘82 when Michael Denner is not in the band.
Is this bonus video footage would go to Roadrunner and not to Metal Blade? I know you have stuff coming out on Metal
Yeah, but there’s a difference between these things. The stuff that Roadrunner is getting is stuff that some collectors had seen – maybe not a lot of the King Diamond stuff that I am intending to give them – the Mercyful Fate, a lot of collectors have seen, but not in this quality. It’s been through digital processing with a company from
Sweden. It’s actually a three-camera shot of us playing a little club in Holland called “The Dynamo” at that time, anyway. For us to give it
out is where I am not living up to my (sarcastictone) perfectionist image. There are some bombers in there that you would not believe. i have one and the band has one, and they’re big. It’s not like I have to tell you where they are. Then of course everyone just plays as if everything is normal. For King Diamond, it’s a show from Gothenburg, Sweden, on the Abigail tour. But I think is two camera angles. That one I haven’t seen yet. Our own stuff for Metal Blade
has never before been seen. we have the only master tapes. There is some killer shit. I freaked when I saw it. There is fifty minutes from a show in Amsterdam at a place called Paradisio (ed. spelling?) which used to be a church. I think that’s from ‘84, if I’m not wrong, before we did “Don’t Break the Oath.” But we did play “Come to the Sabbath.” There are more. There is this big festival in Denmark where we
went on stage at 4:40 in the morning. But people stayed. You can see in the distance when the sun starts coming up. We have quite a bit.
King Diamond stuff too. There was a park in Copenhagen, a gig that we did in the middle of recording “The Eye.’ We tore our gear down and then played this one show and then put it back up and continued recording. Unusual.
That would put to rest the rumor that Snowy programmed a drum machine instead of playing electronic drums.
There you go. electronic drum pads are definitely not the same as playing a drum kit, you know – an experiment that wasn’t bad but it was not what it could have been.
I’ve seen clips, after the reunion, at the Dynamo festival.
Yeah, that would have been the big open air one. MTV was there.
So MTV has the rights to that, not you.
Interview with Phil Fasciana conducted by Bill Zebub for Issue #16 of the Grimoire of Exalted Deeds magazine.
Before you read this interview, you must understand that this was conducted during a time when metal people were metal. The fagginess of the younger metalheads who were brainwashed in school has completely stripped them of anything even remotely resembling the metal attitude, so these gaylords are triggered by words, reacting in fear and faggy outrage.
Intelligent and well-socialized people focus on the real context of the conversation.
In case you are a fake metalhead, be warned that the following interview was made in the real metal attitude. It’s a conversation between two metal personalities who were having a lot of fun. please don’t let your brainwashing misinterpret this conversation. And if you’re faggy, please don’t ever listen to metal. Don’t bastardize this last bastion of truth.
I hope thy sense of humor is with thee today.
You know Tim from Revenant?
He lives down here now… and he told me to say, “What’s up?” to ya.’ He’s in my other band called Hateplow. You gotta wait til you hear this shit, dude. Pavement just signed us too.
Ask him to show thee my movie. He is in it. He told me about how much friendlier the women are in Florida, toward long-hairs anyway.
He’s having a good time.
The girls here call him “Tiny rim.’ But we shall not delve further.
When thy former vocalist was expelled was it done in a cruel way? I heard that thou art friends again.
Oh yeah. We’re friends and shit. At first it was a little fuckin’ screwy. But, I mean, we had to do it then. The kid was a fuckin’ mess. He wasn’t into it. His voice was fuckin’ shot. It woulda sucked ’cause I didn’t want to put out another album that sounded like Stillborn. Man! Was his voice shot! He had his mind on other things, and it wasn’t music.
In regard to the techno re-mixes, did anyone ever ask thee, “What kind of fag art thou?’
No. Not really, man. All I’ve been hearing is good things about it. People usually just hate my band anyway. They’re like, “Well, that I can handle. But the vocals on the other shit is just too much! I can’t take it!’ There’s a couple of my friends that laughed at first. That kind of music is popular. I had nothing to do with it. The guy that re-mixed them just did it on his own. We had no say in anything. We just said, “Sure man. Re-mix it. Then let us hear. If it sounds gay, then fuck it.” We thought it was pretty cool, man. If people don’t like it, fuck ’em!
Dost thou listen to Stryper?
Yeah, right! Do you?
I do not. But Dan Swano is convinced that everyone In death metal should just be brave and admit to listening t Stryper.
I can be honest with you. I don’t have any of their albums. (laughs) Wait… Do you want to hear the truth?
I’ll be honest. I did see them live once. I swear to God, dude. When I was fuckin very young, man, and I still lived in Buffalo, man, I ended up going. They were playing with Loudness or something. And I went with my two friends, and dude, to make matters worse, I’m sitting by the back bar just drinking a fuckin’ Coke, man, and fuckin’ they’re whippin’ Bibles out into the audience, and sure as shit, I stick my hand up and caught one!
I swear, dude! It was one of those little Bibles, you know, the size of your hand. My one friend, he’s all into them and shit, I gave It to him. He’s like, ‘It’s a sign!’ (laughs) I was like, “It’s all right, dude. I gonna go to hell anyway.
I cannot believe that Dan Swano was correct.
(laughs) He was right! None of my friends were really into them or anything. I did see ‘em live. I can’t even believe it. Now that you said that, I remembered it.
Dost thou have a story to tell about Jay and a fat girl?
Jay and a fat girl?
I heard that thou art fond of talking about lay’s fat girl stories.
The thing is, I can’t say anything like that because. . . there’s been a lot of fat girls. But I just don’t want this to get back to… he’s pretty serious with some girl right now.
Is she tremendous?
Tremendous? Well, it’s his girlfriend, and I don’t think I should be saying anything about anything right now like that. Believe me, me and you in person. . . we can talk. I can tell you some shit, man, that you will never believe. I can even show you pictures of things. I just can’t be doin’ that right now.
Dost thou consider fat girls to be one of the plagues of being a musician?
No, man. A fat girl is just more of woman to love. But I don’t really prefer fat girls.
Hast thou ever told any of the member of the band, “This is my new Girlfriend. She’s a little big. ‘
Of course, man. It depends on how much we’ve been partying. There’s always been lot of fat chicks known to be on the bus, or wherever we’re at.
Dost thou consider thy nose structure to contribute to unusual booger sizes?
Yeah. Probably. . . those little ether boogers. You can ask Tim about that.
Let us address thy love of golf.
Oh yeah! I just fuckin’ went yesterday and I went this mornin.’ But, yeah man. I’m a golf freak, dude.
I have heard that many business deals are made on the golf course. Is that where thou negotiated thy contract with Pavement Records?
I wish. No. Not those kinda deals. I have some other wheeling and dealing going on on the golf course. But not record contracts.
Dost thou elicit strange looks? Thou art hardly the sort of golfer I would see on the cover of Golf Digest.
I don’t know, man. I got a lot of shady-lookin’ friends that go with me. So, I probably look kinda a little more respectable than them. I mean, ya’ gotta wear the golf shirt – the collared shirt. It covers up a lotta my tattoos. I’m just so used to golfin’ all the time that I don’t think anything like that. I mean, I hope I do freak people out. I like when people get a fuckin’ shocker.
How didst thou become a golfer?
I used to live almost on a golf course when I lived in New York. I really don’t even know how it all happened.
Dost thou hire a caddy?
No. No. No. No. Nope. No caddy. I go golfln.’ It’s just me and my buddies. Smoke some joints, get into the cart. There’s a million courses here, dude. Everybody golfs, man.
Art thou part of a country club?
Yeah. I am.
Dost thou have a friend named “Muffy?’
No, no Muffy.
I would expect that a man in a band has plenty of muffies at his disposal.
Were any of thy peers struck by lightning?
Nope. I hit a fuckin’ dude in the head, though, with a ball. I hit a few people, actually. I’m deadly, especially after a few beers. I took out a whole guy once. I thought I killed him.
Didst thou laugh when it happened?
Oh dude, I was dyin’ laughing.
How old was he?
Oh he was old, dude. He was half-dead anyways when I hit him, and I nailed him, He was driving in a cart and I still hit him. We heard it go peh-ping!
Didst thou ever suffer the cruelty of a golfball?
I got pegged right in the chest, man. It didn’t feel too good. It was a lady that did it too. She was teeing off, and she fuckin’ shanked it!
Did any band ever really piss thee off
I’ve read some interviews where bands are talkin’ shit about us. Everybody will talk shit. But they’ll never say it to your face. They live on the other side of the world. Gorefest was talking shit about us. This was when their first album was out. They were braggin’ about how brutal they were, and they’re sayin’ that we’re a thrash band and this and that… there’s no brutality about us and this and that. Listen to them now. They’re fuckin rock ‘n roll!
Hast thou ever pissed a band off?
I might’ve. I don’t know.
Thou art not aware of any current hostility?
Why? Are you?
Dost thou remember having a band invite thee into Utah, where thou hast blown them off after having arrived?
This is thy life. . . for the grand prize, what is the name of the band?
I can’t remember the name of the band. I know what it was. They wanted us to play at some fuckin’ party, or I think it was. I just seen the equipment and I was like, “I ain’t playin’ through that! No fuckin’ way!”
Didst thou ever have a rock star attitude?
No. The only thing that I can think of is that it – might have been a bad day or something like that for our whole band, because usually everybody in my whole fuckin’ band is really fuckin’ cool. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t be in the band. All the guys in my band always hang out and party with everybody. I don’t know. Sometimes shit don’t go right. Once you’re in a bad mood, you’re in a bad mood. There’s nothing you can do about it. I’m sorry. Not every day is a good day.
Maybe I shall arrange for the two of thee to have dinner at the expense of the Grimoire.
Alright. Cool! That part of the States, Utah, is fuckin’ desolate! I could never live there, man!
Thou art not a nature-lover?
I’m into nature. But I’m into lookin’ at good nature. I didn’t see anything I liked there.
Canst thou not delve into thy inner mysteries on those mountaintops?
Nope. All they’re good for is stashing fuckin’ bodies.
Mortal, that is the only controversy, beside the fellow with the unusual penis size who is a member of thy other band.
Wait ’til you hear that fuckin’ tape, man! You’ll freak, dude! It is as brutal as fuckin’ shit! It is heavy. I think it’s a release for September.
No other controversy, bad boy?
We got problems, it’s even bad down here, man… people fuckin’ carvin’ into our warehouse walls, “Die Nazi!’ You’ve heard that song, ‘They Breed,’ right?
The last line of the song says, “Always wanting, always taking what was never yours. Someday you will feet the hate, you fuckin’ niggers!”
(laughter) It surprises me that thou are labelled a Nazi.
A lot of people panicked. They sent discs back to Pavement with a swastika in the circle slashed. There’s an ad on the Internet that says we’re Nazis. It’s a fuckin’ joke. I mean, I don’t think we can be Nazis. I’ve got a Polak, a Jew… we’re pretty multi- racial. But just to clear that up, we’re not racist.
So, why the word “Nigger?’
Well, the song is about scumbags. I call everybody nigger. You know what I mean? When my friends call me, they’re like, “Hey nigger!’ The word’s funny.
So when thy mommy wakes thee up in the morning, dost thou say, “Hello nigger?-“
No. I don’t live with my mom.
That is not what I heard, nigger.
It’s just a fuckin’ word. I don’t get offended when people call me “cracker.” Niggers call each other niggers. I’ve had black people come up to me on tour and say that’s the best fuckin’ song on the album! The word “nigger,’ when you look in the dictionary, it doesn’t say “a black person.”
Dost thou not feel that it could be upsetting for a Caucasian to use that word?
Not really. It’s only a fuckin’ word. Ya’ gotta be able to get over something like that. It’s not that fuckin’ bad. I could sit there and call my guitar player ‘fuckin’ Jew’ all day long. He’ll fuckin’ laugh at me and start calling me names. It doesn’t affect me. I know black people that I hang out with… I call them “nigger.” They know I’m only being sarcastic. Some people freak out on it. Other people couldn’t give a rat’s ass about it.
I will bet that it is the white race that has freaked about it.
That’s mostly who’s been freakin’ out!
Why? How can someone be offended for another race? Is not false righteousness the highest evil?
Maybe they wanna be black. I don’t know. It’s weird for people to fuckin’ say that. We did this album in a pretty black part of town. When we did it, man, we could look out the window and see crack dealers. We’re like, “‘Open the door for a minute.’ We opened the door and ‘just cranked it up! It Was fuckin nuts!
Interview with George Fisher conducted by Bill Zebub for issue #25
It’s a pleasure to see you, George.
Which shampoo do you use?
Which shampoo… shit! I don’t the exact make of it because my wife bought it. It’s some fuckin’ salon kind of bullshit. She does fuckin’ nails and facials and all that stuff, and she works in a salon where they do hair and shit. But it ain’t that Biolage. It’s pretty good. It smells good.
A lot of people want to emulate you, and I think a good start is a hair product.
I used to use some stuff that Alex uses, but I don’t remember what it was called. I used to use Biolage. How’s that? Use Biolage, and be brutal.
Do you blow-dry, or do you let it dry naturally?
Just let it dry.
Is that important?
No, because I ain’t sitting under a fuckin’ hair dryer for 20 minutes. I just rather blow-dry my ass hairs.
Have you ever cheated on your wife?
No. Honestly, no.
Are you sure?
You are the stud muffin of death metal.
I am? But I don’t get any.
Has your wife ever cheated on you?
Not to my knowledge? She better not, or I’ll fuck her with a knife! (this was spoken jokingly).
What would be better, if the guy she cheated on you was a friend, or a stranger?
Maybe a friend, because then I’d know at least probably what he has or what he doesn’t have.
Would that make you violent?
It depends. I don’t know what it depends on, but it would depend. I don’t know what to tell ya. If come home and see her shlorking down some big black dick, you know what I mean, I’m going to be pretty pissed off. But I don’t have any guns, so I’ll just have to hack someone with a big sword.
Do you have a sword?
Six of them.
Yes, I am true evil.
Does that compensate for something else?
No. (laughs) Actually I have seven swords. If you wanna know then. A short sword and six long swords. (pause) Average male American giant nine-incher.
Do women force themselves on you even though they know that you are married?
I wish! No, no they don’t force themselves on me. Come one! Look at me! I’m buff!
That must be why they call you “Buff George”.
Unless it was some fuckin’ big Bertha going (in a deep voice), “Come on! I want some now, Grinder!” I would be in trouble if that was the case.
Are you embarrassed to be on tour with such soft bands as The Haunted and Dimmu Borgir?
They’re not soft. That’s fuckin’ mean.
You’re so diplomatic! Come on!
No! I’m not!
You like the swirling keyboards, then?
Yeah, I listen to Emperor a lot. They got keyboards. There’s nothing wrong with that.
You knew I was coming!
No! You don’t like The Haunted? In all honesty, I just heard the new Dimmu Borgir last night. Jack bought it.
Was it in a gay bar?
Look, let me just give you one word of advice. Don’t fuck with the oyster. That would be fucking with the oyster if you would even insinuate that the oyster visited a gay bar. That could be grounds for instant death. If Jack, indeed, is the Oyster, or the Oyster is jack, he has powers beyond Satan, beyond god, beyond fuckin’ Bill Zebub too.
Speaking of god, have you ever heard that Jesus was black?
I’m sure I have. But who cares?
Was that why you were mad, thinking that a black man could be humping your wife when you’re on tour?
No, I was just saying that. It has nothing to do with fuckin’ black, white… if she’s shlorking down a dick, I’m pissed off, unless it’s mine, of course.
Have you noticed that black people usually distort a language? They just totally bastardize it, no matter what language it is, like French and Creole.
Oh, like death metal ebonics?
Ebonics in English, yes, that’s an example. Without sounding negative about it, let’s call it Black English. Can we agree on that?
Um. I don’t know. What was the question?
Where I’m going with this is, I think I can prove that Jesus was black, based on black behavior toward language.
Jesus was asked how to pray. Do you remember what he said? He said, get down with me brother… he said, “Our father who are in heaven.” That’s very improper English, and only a black person would talk like that.
Wasn’t it art?
Well, art is Olde English for” are”.
I don’t know Olde English. I barely know English English.
But wouldn’t you say that’s good evidence for Jesus being black?
I guess, that’s ok, if you’re doing an investigation. If I was a juror, I would take that into consideration.
Now that you are relaxed, do you think that it’s possible for you to sing “Mary had A Little Lamb”?
No. Why did I know that this was gonna come up? This is going to become this continuing saga. You’re always like, please! And I’m just not gonna do it.
I’m not going to argue with you about it. I’m just going to ask.
The reason I ask is, you’re like that cartoon frog… he only sings to his owner.
(singing) Hello my baby, hello my darlin’.
The first time you sang, my tape ran out. The second time, my battery died, and you sang it afterwards all night. But you’re determined not to do it on tape.
You just have to give me the top hat and throw me on the street.
I know that as soon as I leave the bus, you’re going to be singing.
I just saw the cartoon before we went on tour. I was like, I’d fucking kill this fuckin’ frog! Just kill it! You ain’t gonna make no fuckin’ money off of it! It’s a little punk!
Do you ever get asked to play requests when you perform?
People yell out songs.
Do people ever yell out, “Mary Had A Little Lamb?”
No, not yet. But I’ve talked to a few people around this area. They asked me about it. What’s with this Mary Had A Little Lamb?
Will you sing it tonight, when you perform?
No, most definitely not. The other guys don’t know it.
Well, just say it’s time for a vocal solo. Have you ever met up with Warrel Dane after he read all the bad stuff you said about him?
I didn’t say that much… I didn’t say… what did I say bad about him?
That you don’t want to sing like him.
Well that’s not bad. I can’t sing like him.
Alright, you’re backing down now.
No I’m not! No! You tell me exactly what I said.
I don’t remember what you said. I don’t want to get in the middle of your war with Nevermore.
I’m not in a war with Nevermore! I didn’t say anything bad about Warrel Dane!
Then why did you steal his guitar player?
He was already fuckin’ out of Nevermore! He had already done tours with Monstrosity, so there! (pause) We can take whoever we want.
Last time we talked, we were cut off as we discussed your parents escaping the concentration camp.
I’m not German. I’m fuckin’ Filipino. (pause) They were trying to escape, but, you know… it happens.
Do you work out?
(laughs) Can’t you tell? I work out 12-ounce curls every night.
After you got married, you let your body go?
I had already been letting it go anyway. Getting married didn’t change anything. Actually, just before I came on tour, I’ve been kicking in an exercise bike. No lie!
Do you wear spandex when you do that?
No… naked! And I put on King Diamond’s Them and just fuckin’ (makes guitar sounds)
Monstrosity doesn’t seem to be doing too well after you left. Do you pay them any sort of alimony?
No. I just saw them yesterday. They pulled up. Before they even got there, some kids were askin’ me that there was a big rumor that I was singin’ a song with ’em. And Lee was like, “Yeah, we’re gonna ask you to sing a song!” I didn’t even know they were playin’ and I was on the bus, and I come out and they’re playin’ Angel of Death, so I missed ’em. No, I’m not paying them alimony, and last night I missed them, and that sucked.
Have you ever asked Dimmu Borgir or The Haunted for any vocal tips. You try to vary your vocals, and I was wondering if you ever decided to incorporate unmanly high-pitched screaming, maybe they could give you some tips.
(George attempts to sing gay, and succeeds)
Is your latest album your best-selling one?
Is that going to make Metal Blade kick you off?
I hope not. No way! It’s doin’ alright, I guess. It’s just not the best-selling one. Maybe we wimped out or something.
Did someone tap you on the shoulder to tell you that that option maybe isn’t looking so good?
Maybe I need to be doing more (makes a high pitched gay sound). I think The Bleeding sold the most. Obviously the Ace Ventura movie had a lot to do with that.
Black metal bands have admitted to me that black metal is dead in Europe. Was there ever a danger that Cannibal Corpse would incorporate gay black metal elements?
No. We’re a death metal band. You know? I like a lot of black metal bands. I like Marduk, Dark Funeral… stuff like that. But we’re not gonna do anything like that. We’re death metal. Pat listens to a little bit. Maybe jack. But nobody else listens to it really that much. I’m the black metal guy in the band.
Do you remember the first Cannibal Corpse record you sang on? Did you get your hands on the underground tape of songs that Chris Barnes sang on?
I had heard it. There’s a tape that has more songs on it than what’s going around. Some people haven’t heard Defiled By Vermin, and that’s actually on one of the tapes.
Would anybody sue me if I put that out on CD?
I don’t care. You know the reason it came out? You know who let it get out?
Thank you. This isn’t a rip on him. But that’s how it got out. If you put it on CD, I wouldn’t care. I know people in Europe have already seen copies of it pressed on CD.
The reason I asked is because, the guy who used to run the Canadian magazine, The Sepulchral Voice, uh, someone gave him a tape to make into a CD before the album came out, but unfortunately his house burned down, and he never shared that tape with me, and I hate him.
Oh, you want to hear it?
Can I play it on my radio show?
We don’t care. We know there’s copies of it out already.
So why don’t you hook me up with an immaculate copy?
I don’t have one.
I think you know some people in the band who might have one.
You know them too.
Yeah, but they don’t like me the way you do. You’ve got that way of talking people into things. I don’t have that. I don’t have what you have. So just look into that. Let it simmer. You’ve got my address and everything.
Just give me a little on the side. Oh man, Metal Bade is kicking us off tomorrow, or whenever this comes out.
That’s ok. You need to be on a metal label anyway.
Hey! Come on! Metal Blade is total metal.
How gay is that guy, EJ?
Do you talk about his love of Motley Crue?
He loves Motley Crue? My wife loves Motley Crue.
Yeah, but your wife is a woman.
Thank you. (pause) He looks like Buddy Holly. You find that funny? It’s nothing bad.
So he looks the way he talks.
He looks sort of like Buddy Holly. Look, I don’t want to sit here and rip on him.
You can’t shut up about him. I just asked a question.
No! You’re just trying to distort everything.
Don’t be paranoid.
I’m not paranoid! What’s he gonna do? Beat me up?
Why are you so defensive? Are you saying he’s a gay wimp?
Listen, when I said that, I had assumed that you had met him. He’s going to be pissed at me when he reads this.
Who cares? What’s he going to do, have a hissy fit?
I know, I know.
You made him break a nail.
I thought that you had met him before.
No, I don’t hang out in gay bars.
Where does he hang out? Obviously not metal shows because he’d get queerbashed.
I don’t know. I’ve only met him a few times.
So he doesn’t go where rough men hang out?
What is he, a scout leader? Is that how he gets action?
Do you act catty when you’re in the same room with an attractive man?
What do you mean? Gay? No.
I don’t know these kind of words. You’re too technical for me, man. Just tell me piss, shit, and fart.
Do you get jealous and all of a sudden have to flex your arms, as if to say that you are more handsome?
No, because I am.
Yeah. I’m goddamn confident.
Have you ever come close to cheating on your wife?
Never. There have been girls, where I’m like, she’s fuckin’ hot! But nothing like when I was attempting to kiss or holding hands or sticking cock in, or anything like that. Not even close.
Did you ever tell your wife, “I wasn’t kissing her, she was kissing me!”
Did she ever say that to you?
What, that she wasn’t kissing her? I wish! But not him!
What are three things that will never appear on a Cannibal Corpse album.
Bill Zebub, poofy hair, and stick twirls. Of course, you couldn’t tell if that was on there. Picture-wise, poofy hair. Thanks-list-wise, Bill Zebub. That fuckin’ super lame cheap beat. Ever hear that?
What is that called? Thrash?
Just a cheap beat. (bass/snare) At practice, you should see Paul do it. He does it super animated. You won’t ever hear the lame dorky cheap beat.
For legal reasons, you could not advertise at the Limelight because you are playing at the Birch Hill tonight. I heard that after you play the rest of the shows on this tour, you’re coming back to the area to play the Limelight, on a Monday night. Have you ever played there? It used to be a church, and they converted it to a club.
I’m almost certain we had.
That means that you brought death metal back to New York.
What’s the big deal of that?
It used to be shut down. From what I heard, the attitude towards drugs was that they could not be stopped, so in order to prevent it, certain dealers were there who acted like caring bartenders.. like, if you had enough, they wouldn’t sell you any more. And they sold you good stuff, not adulterated stuff that could hurt you. (note- this is what I heard from a former employee. It is not presented here as fact). Supposedly they wore special necklaces that indicated they should not be busted, but other dealers were fair game for the police. There was really open drug use, and for some strange reason, the place was shut down.
Is that true, that they couldn’t advertise?
I was told that the Limelight show couldn’t be advertised because people wouldn’t go to the Birch Hill… they would wait for you to come back to the legendary Limelight.
Really? Well as far as I know, it’s on our web site.
I’m just glad. You’re the first death metal band to go through those doors since the big shutdown. And who better to open the doors of the Limelight? It was shut down by a Nazi, and your parents escaped the Nazi’s. I think it’s just beautiful the way you will overthrow the fourth reich of New York. What are some of your hobbies?
Playing video games, and fishing.
So you know about Metal Dave? He has a fishing column in the Grimoire.
You know who else is a big-time fishing person? Chris Bailey from Infernal Majesty.
Get out of town!
Yeah man! (starts reading the column) “I love my goldfish named “Leaky” It will have a birthday soon. If I sing Happy Birthday to it, will it hear me?” What’s that got to do with fishing?
So you’re a fisherman. You don’t keep fish. You’re not an aquarist.
Hey, I eat them motherfuckers.
So if you keep them in a tank, it’s only until they die in your frying pan.
I do have one of those fuckin’ beta fish. It’s fuckin’ cruel. Look, they have these little… it’s like a vase… and they got all this rocky shit… and then a plant would be in it. The roots grow, and then the fish will eat off the roots. They call them fighting fish. If you put two males together, they’ll go at it. You can get bigger cases for ’em. I got a small one. It was given to my wife. I was thinkin’, this is fuckin’ cruel. I haven’t got him a new tank yet, obviously, because I’m on tour. But that’s a different story besides fishing. When I’m fishing, I catch fish, and I eat them motherfuckers.
Isn’t it a little strange to keep fish in a vase? You can’t see them.
(Exasperated) OK. All right. Hardy har.
I’m trying to teach you to become a little more aware of what you’re communicating when you speak.
Yeah, because I’m talking like an idiot.
I’m trying to clear all the rumors for you, George. This is how rumors get started… saying things like, keeping fish in a vase, with plants. Here’s some roses and a goldfish. Here’s a flower, honey. Oh, I’ll put it in a vase with the fighting fish. We have a couple of questions from a girl who lives in Rhode island. Her name is Tammy. Has a man you never met before suddenly given you flowers? Oh no… that was my question. But go ‘head.
Has a man you never met before suddenly given you flowers?
No, or I’d fuckin’ put him in a stunner.
Have you been hit on by a man?
Um… no, I don’t think so.
Tammy would like to know how long is your thingy?
Um, rolled up or…
I’m just asking the questions. I’m not interpreting them.
About as big as a baseball bat.
How many times a day do you jerk off?
Depends on how far into the tour we are. Two to three, let’s say.
Is a tour bus sort of like prison, as far as jerking off is concerned? Like, when you first go into prison, you don’t know if you should, and then, depending on what your cell mate is doing, his jerk off behavior… like, do you wait for other people in the band to start rolling first? Is this a bus of denial, where you just keep doing it and nobody seems to react to everyone else doing it?
I don’t know. I just bought a Hustler, so…
So what do you do? Do you say, “Hey guys! It’s a nice day! Why don’t you go for a walk?”
I think, pretty much, everybody just keeps that to their bunk. Stay in your bunk and wack, if you want.
What if you’re used to moaning in private. You can’t do that on the tour bus.
You just got to do the old… (clamps hand over mouth)
Is there anything you’d like to clear up from past interviews?
Don’t jerk off in public. Wait! Anything I want to clear up from past interviews?
(I met up with Cannibal Corpse again after I had done the Nevermore interview, and I told Pat about what Warrel said, and he responded thusly)
(Pat) I got kicked out of Nevermore because I wasn’t queer.
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 Trey conducted by Bill Zebub for issue #6
Thy attitude, as a band, has come under a lot of scrutiny. Dave Vincent has made some bold comments when asked about how involved he is in thy local scene. He responded with, “What scene? There is no scene. There’s only Morbid Angel!’ Dost thou think that such assertions hinder thee?
Um … Not really.
But how canst thou say that? A lot of bands have taken tremendous offense to that.
Really? Like who?
I am not at liberty to mention. But let us step away from thy peers. Fans have found the arrogant statements to be distasteful. It is not really an attitude that they admire. But then there are those who worship thee and praise thy airs.
Well, let me put it this way – we just feel that what we say is accurate to what’s going on as far as fact. When you blow all the smoke away, we’re talking about what’s standing – a secure thing that’s real. There’s a lot of hype and stuff like that surrounding a lot of bands. We’re just talking about actually what’s the music all about – what’s going into it, you know, without any extra fluff ‘n stuff that people would talk about that really has nothing to do with music. We only just talk about our music and how powerful it is and how we feel that it’s the most powerful music there is. It’s just what we feel. It goes beyond just music. It goes in just about everything. There’s a lot of people who. . . their whole career is just based on hype and fluff talk and all that kind of stuff, and fronts. Our career is based on serious material that we put a lot of time and effort into. So we just believe in ourselves and believe in our stuff.
Didst thou find it to be humiliating to be dropped from Giant Records?
What is the next step?
As far as labels, we don’t know. We’re just gonna see who gives us the best offer. As far as music, I don’t see us changing really, anymore than it’s changed with all the previous records.
Thou art very proud of incorporating certain extreme tempo notes in thy arrangements. I have heard thee say that not many musicians are capable of such feats. Dost thou care to expound?
What is it about the Morbid Angel guitar that cannot be duplicated?
Well, I think really it’s not the playing – it’s the creativity. That’s really what it’s all about. It’s the vision that is behind the riffing. I’m not saying that people can’t figure out our stuff, or be shown and mechanically play it. But what I’m saying is that I don’t see any other band coming up with as many different types of rhythms and song struc tures as we have on our records, and covered as much ground. That’s what I think is the difference. This band has a little bit more creativity, imagination, and we create so much new stuff in this type of music as far as all the different songs. . . when you take them and dissect them for what they are, there’s a lot coming from one band. The two videos that we put on MTV, like, Rapture and God of Emptiness – those two songs are, like, totally different from one another. One is, like, really fast and brutal, and hyper speed. The other is , like, down-tuned and slow and really heavy and all that. They’re totally different. But they’re from the same band. I don’t see any other band that is producing such a broad range of music. I haven’t heard it.
Thou art heavily into the Sumerian gods?
Is that because of what thou hast read of Lovecraft’s fiction, or is it because thou dost possess an actual anthropological interest?
Well, I haven’t really read any H.P. Lovecraft. David has. Fiction… you know, fact… I pretty much study the actual books that are translations from the old. . . uh. . . I can say “scriptures’ and stuff like that, in those areas. It’s like, you know, fiction or . . . myth. Myths are, like, based on what people believed You could say, or I could say, that all religion is fiction because there’s nothing really physically factual about it. It’s just all belief. Belief is the power. You can invent your own kind of religion, and if you believe in it strong enough and anchor in a reality to it, then you give it power, and it is powerful. So it’s kind of a question between, like, something being all fiction, and then something being, like, factual religion. I mean, all religion is basically, you know, people’s ideas and what they would say about a belief about some kind of power or something that’s beyond the physical realm. It’s all intangible. It’s not really something like a car or, like, food, or something that you can see and hold and touch. It’s something that you believe in. It’s something that gets your spiritual powers going. Myself, the stuff that I’ve read, that was, like, very interesting to me. That’s the way I live my life. I choose things that I like myself . . . what do I feel a part of or what can I feel a part of.
Vincent says that his interest is pure belief. Is that the same with thee? Or is it just an area of study?
Um. . . I don’t know. Maybe both.
Dost thou think that it is absurd to adopt a culture that is not thine? How canst thou be seen as authentic in thy belief if it is not only a foreign civilization, but a civilization long dead?
Well, when you say, “to be seen. . .’ to be seen by who? By myself?
By others, of course.
Well, see, I don’t care what other people think. I don’t base anything on what other people say is cool or what other people say is norm because I create my own cool and my own standards. I really don’t base any- thing by other people’s ideas of what’s right and wrong.
But if thou truly did not care what other people thought, thou wouldst not profess thy unusual tastes to the world. Thou wouldst just dismiss prying questions with “no comment” or “this is not appropriate for discussion.’ Thou calls thyself by a pseudonym that is from that culture. So that would lead people to ask thee about it. Dost thou not think that thou art baiting people?
I just think that I’m living my life the way I choose, which is Satanism. See, I don’t think of it like that. I just do whatever I feel is best for myself. When I get the opportunity to say what I got to say, I say it. People listen to it. Great if they don’t. Big Deal! It doesn’t affect me much either way.
When thou did say “Satanism,’ Didst thou refer to the Anton LaVey school of Satanism? Or is it what occultists call “Christian Satanism?’
I’m talking about my interpretation of Satanism.
Wouldst thou care to share a couple of things about that view?
Well, to me, Satanism is believing in yourself and making your own decisions, and pretty much controlling the way you live your life and what you do and what you think… you know, doing it for yourself and doing things because you want to and not because other people expect it out of you or other people are gonna think it’s gonna be cool or whatever. But really, actually, you can do that too if that’s important to you. The bottom line is, doing what’s important to you.
Is there anything evil about Satanism?
Evil? How do you describe evil? Is that just the opposite of holiness?
No. Evil as in hatred, acts that hurt others. . . perhaps it is the common idea of evil than thy own. I know evil is a relative term. But understand that I will always use common conventions, as I am not aware of thy own definitions.
…probably. I’m full of hatred. But I don’t live my life trying to hurt other people.
How about horrific? Is there anything horrifying about thy version of Satanism?
To me, or to other people?
To others, obviously.
I would say that Christians would. Average people, you know, maybe not. It depends on the individual, really, because, see, I’m beyond that. I think of people as Individuals, and maybe sometimes they’re a little more sheep-ish than others because they wanna follow the leader or follow and be part of something as opposed to, you know, letting themselves be by themselves in a decision or idea. I would say that it depends. You take a group of people and you might have out of ten, 3 people are saying one thing and the rest are saying something else. It’s hard to say. I didn’t really spend my time thinking about what other people think that much because that’s their job. I’m more concerned with what I think and what I do. I just do what I feel is best for myself.
Is there rivalry between Glen Benton and Dave Vincent?
Well, I don’t think there’s any really from David. See, what it is, is, I mean, it all boils down to people and the way they are and their values and what they think. See, us. . .we’re always asked questions about that band and other bands and whatever. “Oh. What do you think about their latest record?” See, part of Satanism too, by our definition, is to speak what you feel is the truth for you. What is your reality? Say it boldly. Don’t kiss ass and say, “They’re cool.” and then by yourself you’re thinking , “Oh they really suck. Oh I don’t really like them. But I’m gonna say they”re coot because I wanna be cool” I don’t care about being cool. That doesn’t mean anything to me. So we just say what we think, and people don’t like that. So. . . whatever. But see, I know also that they say what they think, and they say things about our band, and you know, to me, when you look at the music, I don’t really see that it can be compared. I think there’s a big difference between our records and their records as far as accomplishments and as far as creativity and, you know, you throw away all the hype and you get to the music and you just listen to it and what it does it do… I just feel that our music does a lot more.
But philosophically, are they opposed diametrically, Glen and Dave?
I don’t know. I guess you have to ask him. I know, myself, I’m actually very supportive of Deicide these days because I personally think that the drummer and Glen… I think they do a great job, you know, what they do. I think the vocals are really very creative and I think the drummin’s really solid. But you know, for me, I just always kind of felt that the music was lacking something. I just didn’t really get much out of the actual songs from one song to the next. But I really hope Deicide stays around because I think that the scene or whatever needs more bands right now, it seems like it’s just us that is really doing something and selling records and making things happen. But I really hope that Deicide stays around. I don’t have any beef with them at all. I just think that besides maybe talking and making all this hype up or whatever, they should maybe think about their music a little bit more. But whatever. I mean, they’re doin’ what they wanna do.
With regard to the Satanic element, it has been observed that most people who are very loud about proclaiming themselves as Satanic are often of puny stature and that they only pretend that they are Satanists to compensate for their physical weakness. Wouldst thou say that this applies to thee?
As far as proclaiming that I’m a Satanist?
It has been suggested that thou and Tommy from Motley Crue are the same person, making fun of thy skinny arms, and stating that the only reason thou art in the occult is to create some sort of macho image because thy physical presence cannot possibly do so.
Well, I can tell you one thing. I’m not, like, in the Ultimate Fighting Championship or some kind of prize boxer. So I’m certainly not trying to be some kind of massive macho fighter or whatever. I’m a guitar player. That’s what I do. That’s what I’m offering these people. . . is my guitar playing. I put a lot of time and effort into that, and I think that in that I’m very powerful and I’ve accomplished a lot. I don’t really know what that’s supposed to mean.
Has anyone ever hugged thee and loved the and called the ‘George Emanuelle?”
Has anyone done what now?
Has anyone hugged thee and loved thee and called the “George?”
Not that I remember.
If thou ever played baseball, wouldst thou be pitcher or catcher?
I don’t know.
If thou wert having gay sex with thy manager, wouldst thou be pitcher or catcher?
Well, I don’t know. That sounds pretty weak to me.
Thy hecklers are may.
That’s the thing. Why aren’t these people who are saying all this stuff. . . how come they’re not, like, writing music that’s gonna just make our band nothing? I don’t get that. It’s easy to say a mouthful of nothing. But it’s a lot more work to create music and product, because that’s what a band is. A band is music. That’s what it’s all about. It’s about making music and creating a statement, and devastating with chord structures and timing sequences and things like that. All this other stuff.. it means nothing.
Interview with Cronos conducted by Bill Zebub for Issue #21 of THE GRIMOIRE OF EXALTED DEEDS magazine
I understand that you had a false media war with King Diamond in the early days. You were calling him King Billy and he was calling you Cronfag.
It’s all good fun. We’ve had this since the beginning of our career. The first label that we were with, there was a band called Raven. As soon as we realized that Venom money was being used to fund Raven, that was it! You know? The war was on! We’ve always thought that it sort of creates a good… A little bit of rivalry between bands can keep everybody on their toes. Sometimes it’s good fun.
Americans like it. Professional wrestling is proof of that.
I mean, the thing for me, was… this is why I called him King Billy…. because when I first met him, he tried to sort come across to me like he was some fuckin’ hard core Satanic dude. You know? Which I was having none of it. I really wanted to sort of go, “Hi. How ya doin’? Do you wanna have a beer?” which is sort of my way of doin’ things. But he sort of wanted to sit at this table, with these candles around him, and stare at everybody. So we just sat around and got drunk and just took the piss out of him all night. Eventually, when he left… this is in Holland… he stood up from the table to go to his hotel room, with a glass in his hand. Now he had no shoes on. He dropped the fuckin’ glass, stood in it, cut his foot, and had to get rushed off to the hospital. You know? Like… (he cackles like an old witch who is about to lower children into a boiling cauldron). Really evil. (again, the cackle).
I never thought he would act like that.
Yeah. He made a right dick of himself. But I forgive ‘im.
What do you think about his music?
It’s not really my cup of tea. But it’s still heavy, and I do appreciate heavy. I’ve never really been into that high voice/low voice thing. You know? I was always a big Judas Priest fan. I can’t really get past that, really. But hey. Good luck to him. I mean, he’s doin’ some good shit. He’s got some cool titles and that. But I don’t really have to like the music. That’s the thing about this. With a lot of bands, so long as they’re ok people, that’s also a lot of the message that we’ve got. You know? Venom want to be a super group. We wanna put on a fuckin’ cross between a KISS show, a Judas Priest show, and a Black Sabbath show. You know? We wanna be that huge group. That’s what influenced us. But at the same time we wanna still come down to earth and have a fuckin’ laugh. We’ve tried to do that with Venom, not necessarily successfully. Some people say, well you’re not serious… you’re takin’ the piss… and you don’t chill out enough.. and you shouldn’t take yourself too seriously. Fuckin’ hell! You know? We’re musicians. We’re gonna do our job. But then we’re gonna get drunk and fall around like idiots.
So you won’t be doing any King Diamond covers on the next album?
Don’t think so. I remember goin’ through Germany once, when we played that first tape, and we’re all goin’ (in a high voice) “Hail Satan! (in a low voice) “Hail Satan! We just thought it was so funny. You know? I was runnin’ around with these fuckin’ bones in me hands, doin’ fuckin’ King Billy impressions.
The funny thin is that he is going to be in the same issue.
Hey, no problem.
There was a very brutal version of At War With Satan recorded in the old days. Will that ever be available?
Was that the demos? That was, wasn’t it? When we actually came over to do the Staten Island show… I remember we had Metallica on… ‘83. We had the demo for At War With Satan in our bag, and we went to these great parties with all these young kids and got fuckin’ out of our minds. I remember pulling out the tape and played it for everybody, and they thought it was great, and we got drunk and we left and we didn’t take the tape. That’s how that got out. But we didn’t mind anyway. We thought it sounded cool anyway. So we just went, oh well, what the fuck. Win some, lose some. We still had the album to do, anyway. So it was no problem to us.
Metallica actually opened for Venom. That’s very strange.
Not really. They were young spotty kids. I mean, that’s what we thought at the time. It was difficult for Venom to… fuckin’ hell! There was no fucker who really understood what we were doin’. So we had to really selectively choose who we were on the road with. A band like Metallica… we were sent over some stuff over to England and we heard it and we thought, well at least it’s fast. Because what we were hearing was all these Iron Maiden cover bands and fuckin’ Def Leppard shit. And we thought, no, these are gonna get murdered. We knew that the Venom audience was gonna crawl out of the sewers. We just knew that. You know? We thought, uh oh… this is gonna be fun! So we couldn’t have had some fuckin’ pretty boy band on support. They would have been murdered. But metallica were cool. Hey, they were young spotty kids. But at the same time they were really energetic, which we liked. It was the same with Slayer and Exodus as well. The energy that they had… plus they were young, plus they were pretty cool and everything. We had some good laughs.
So do your style decisions reflect those of Metallica? Will you be going down the same path?
My hair’s still down to my ass.. and I don’t wear make up… and I’ve got a girlfriend.
There are no pictures of you kissing a band mate?
I don’t think so.
By the way, there’s a severe thunderstorm in the area. So if I die, what a way to go.. die while talking to Cronos. There’s a backwards message on the vinyl version of Black Metal. Is the forward version message interesting?
Yeah! It’s on everything. I mean, fuckin’ hell! There’s more than just that. There’s that stuff on quite a lot of the records. The classic one that I always thought was when we first came to do the first single, I was all full of, I wanna do all these backwards messages. I was gonna do some lord’s prayer, or something. And then when we play it backwards it will be all wicked and spooky. And I was like, no… that’s fuckin’ really childish. What I’m gonna do is, I’m gonna shout “You’re gonna fuckin’ burn in hell! You’re gonna bleed for me!” When you play that backwards, then it sounds… you can say “Have a nice day” and it would sound evil backwards. But then when they spun the fuckin’ record backwards and hear us actually screamin’ that shit out… I just wanted to fuckin’ frighten people.
It’s good wholesome Satanism that the entire family can enjoy.
I think so. Yeah. Definitely for the fuckin’ family. Bring the pets too. They go really well on the barbeque.
This next question comes from a person who is quite knowledgeable about the Venom ways. His name is Paul Nestarok. He writes for me under the name “Paul Tergeist”.
Cool… Bill Zebub. (laughs in mockery)
When was the last time you smoked angel dust?
Fuckin’ hell! It’s got to be over 10 years now, when i was back in the States.
Would you like to talk about that, being that you are such a mighty role model?
Well it was just cool. I got stoned. (laughs) It was pretty cool. I really got nice and wrecked on it, and felt really wicked good after the show. I got it off some chick. She was Russian. She brought it. It was really fresh… still on the fuckin’ mint leaf and everything. It was really nice.
Any psychotic episodes?
No. We didn’t, actually. But somebody said we’d have to freebase it to have that effect.
I see. So it’s not a bad psychoactive drug, according to Cronos?
I’ve never had a bad one. I never had a bad drug. I loved them all.
You are quite healthy these days. I was wondering if you changed your habits… if you no longer partake of such things.
Yeah, I do my bodybuilding and I stay fit and everything. What it is, is I consider that if i stay fit then I can party harder because I recover quicker. But so does Mantas as well. It goes with the whole sort of Venom territory, I think. It’s healthy body/healthy mind. And plus, we did the first gig in ‘82 over in Belgium and sat backstage and looked at each other and went (in slurred speech) “Fuckin’ hell! I’m fucked!” And we just said that’s it, we need to get fit to do this. If we’re gonna be able to stand on stage and look like these cool dudes who we wanna look like, standing there all big and proud and hard core, not like (pants like a dog). You know?
You were rumored to be quite in love with Jack Daniels.
Oh yes. A rather nice thing to be drinking. Amber nectar.
Whenever your stage banter included Americans, it was not very flattering. I’m not American. So I don’t are. But I would be interested in your anti-American outlook.
I don’t think it’s anti-American. I think what it is is it’s a very realistic look at the differences between England and America. When I’m in America, if i take the piss out of Americans, you’ll find that I’ll also give the counter argument for the English. I just find that there’s some sort of good little conundrums that go down in America that seems to go over everyone’s head, yet it seems so obvious to me. The classic one is when you’re called a limy. I find that one really funny because when I say to people “What is a limy?” they say, “well, you’re a fuckin’ limy”. Yeah. Well, how do you come to that name? And they’re like, “Well, when the English got on the boats to come across to America, they had to suck on limes so they didn’t get scabies and shit. So that’s why you’re a limy.” But hold on. The English who came to America stayed in America. There were some English people who didn’t come to America. They stayed in England. That’s my ancestors. We didn’t get on that fuckin’ boat. We didn’t suck no fuckin’ limes. you’re the limy! An American is a descendant of the person who got on the boat and sucked on the limes. So the Americans are fuckin’ limy.
I got on the airplane, man. I had jack Daniels. Call me a fuckin’ jackie.
I’m sure there are plenty of people who call you a jackie.
Yeah. Just call me Daniels!
On the first vinyl pressing of Welcome to Hell, a poster was included. Will any kind of special collector’s item appear in a future Venom release, or is the small size of a cd too much of a limit?
That’s true. i think so. I mean, I’ll tell you where I think everything’s going now. I’m really trying to get me head into the sort of computer thing as well. You can get the wallpapers from the web pages… all the multimedia stuff… all the icons and the buttons and the bits and pieces. A lot of people are finding that to be a good addition to things now. It’s just a case of convincing the record companies that this shit doesn’t take up much space an the cd, and blah dee blah dee blah. Then we can start putting more on a record, really. Sorry. More on a cd, than we could on an album.
Like a virus, maybe.
Yeah. (laughs) Matrix virus. Take the red pill. I’m also a vinyl fan, so I look at a cd fuckin’ booklet and I just go “duh”. I want it bigger. At the same time, if you’re gonna be able to have stuff on the cd, even like video stuff like the cd rom… you buy an album and you get more than just music. You can watch it and interact with it and fuck about with it and everything. Mix your own Venom album.
Am I right in saying that there are not many professional pictures that were taken of Venom in the early days?
What it was was , what we did was, we only had really a couple of select photographers that we would let take photos, and everybody else just used to get us at gigs or catch us in the street or coming out of the gig or whatever it was. We used to use a KISS photographer, actually. It was a guy named Fin Costello. He took all the classic KISS shots. He’s an English guy. We went down and he says, “I came up with this idea for a photo session”. So the ones that we did, we did mainly with Fin Costello. Wicked good laugh. He knew all the shops to go around and get all the skulls and the bones and the mummies, fuckin’ chains, and the snakes. So we had good fun with him.
At the end of From Hell to the Unknown, I guess it’s a fake interview. But in it was the denial that black metal was the name of a music genre. It’s strictly a name for an album. But throughout the life of Venom that was a changing statement. One day black metal is music, and another day black metal is just simply an album name. So what is it today?
I’ve never heard that argument, really. If somebody says, where does the name “black metal” come from? It was a term that I created before we actually wrote the song. This is the honest way that it is. Being a fuckin’ big fan of metal music and rock and everything else, I’m also a big Van halen fan, and heard that he was doing a guitar solo for Michael Jackson. Fuckin’ hell! Heard the song… I think it was “Beat It”. I just went “Duh!” You know? Why is a fuckin’ rock fuckin’ legend like that getting involved with shit? The next thing I see is in the rock press, where you’ve got the heavy metal charts. You’ve got #1 with Michael Jackson with “Beat It” just simply because Eddie Van Halen had done a solo. So I remember goin’ into one of the early Venom rehearsals… I was furious. I was like, fuck this! We’re NOT heavy metal. Fuck this! No way! I don’t want to be in the same chart as that! We started playin’ with words.. like we were longhaired punks. We were metal punk. Then we were power metal. And by the time we actually sat down with the press and they were sayin’ “Right, what’s happenin’ with this, that, and the other?” I was like, “Yeah. Look, I’m fuckin’ sick of this shit! Fuckin’ listen to me now! This is not fuckin’ shit! This is fuckin’ metal, this, mate! This is in your face. This will kick your fuckin’ eyes out! You know? Don’t fuck around with this! This is black metal! This is power metal! This is speed metal. This is thrash metal! This is death metal! This is will kill you, this shit, man! Fuck off!’ I was just so angry. I was just so pissed off. I just thought, NO WAY! So that’s where that was all born from. Yeah, we then wrote the song Black Metal. We thought, let’s describe Venom in a song. Black metal is describin’ Venom. The actual genre that fuckin’ followed was simply… I mean, we formed a band that we wanted to see. We wanted a band to look like Venom.. So what the kids obviously did, our fans, went, “We would like to be like that as well”, and they took little bits out of Venom like we would’ve taken little bits out of Sabbath and Judas Priest and fuckin’ KISS and whoever influenced us.
And King Diamond?
Yeah… of course. (cackles) So that’s how all these sort of things come together. It’s other people who say, “Oh Venom are responsible for this, and Venom are responsible for that!” If I’m in any way responsible for the huge explosion of a whole load of fuckin’ demons, it seems like the gates of hell have just opened up, and a million death metal ugly motherfuckers have come crawling out and have infected the whole world… hell yeah! That’s what I say!
How do you feel about the Norwegians claiming that the 90’s music that they seemed to create is called “Black Metal” especially since they pay homage to Bathory instead of to you?
A lot of them pay homage to Venom as well. I mean, they’ve all got the Venom “Welcome to Hell” t-shirts. The whole thing is, they’re not really encapsulating the whole thing of what black metal is because black metal captures all of the metals, and Venom play fast songs and slow songs and moody songs and atmospheric songs… and they play only one style of music. They play like a death metal more like, and with a (in a Popeye voice) wicky wicky wicky wicky we… sort of like speeded up Popeye lyrics. There’s one fuckin’ song we heard a while ago. it was really funny. It sounded like Popeye singing “Oh I do like the babyside, the seaside.” I thought it was great! We were fuckin’ pissin’ ourselves laughing!
I think that was Immortal.
I got two people, the singer Abbath and the bass player Iscariah, to sing actually sing the lyrics of Popeye because they don’t have that show. They don’t know why I was telling them to sing it.
I wrote down the words lyrics down. (Cronos laughs, quite amused) I’ll have to send it to you.
It’s going to appear on one of my cd’s.
Brilliant! It’s like when you go to France and you get some French girl and she can’t speak English, and say, “Here. Do you want to learn English?” and they’re going “Ke?” And you go, “Yeah. Just say this. Say ‘fuuuuck meeee.” And they’re just standin’ there goin’ “Fok may?” that’s the best. Great fun.
Do you find a similarity between your song “Manitou” and Bathory’s “Baptized in Fire and Blood?” from the Hammerheart album?
No. Manitou was actually written during the Welcome to Hell days. So I don’t know when the bathory track was actually put together. But, most certainly not! The song Manitou was actually the original riff for the song “Possessed” It should’ve actually went… in Manitou, where the riff goes dil noo noo noo noo noo… right? That should’ve went, “Look at me. Satan’s child!” Dil noo noo noo noo noo. “Born of evil. Thus defiled!” But then as we’d done the Black Metal and At War With… album, we were startin’ to look at the “Possessed” songs and goin’ “Neh neh nuh nih neh neh.” So I came up with a whole new riff sequence for the possessed thing and put the Manitou lyrics to the Possessed riff to make Manitou.
It’s a great joy for me to play those songs back to back on my radio show. But no one has ever called me, like “Wow! That’s very similar!” It’s just something that maybe only I can hear.
But I don’t hear voices or anything like that. How do you pronounce it… a-BAD’-on or A’-ba-don?
In England, we would say A-ba-don.
Abaddon is no longer in the band.
Rumor has it that he found the direction of Venom to be taking a turn for the weak.
No. What it was was he fell in love with Marilyn Manson. Yep. He’s now gone into some kind of computerized drum technical frenzy type very bad Nine Inch Nails rip off shit. No thank you.
So he couldn’t do that just as a hobby and keep true in the Venom way?
This is what we didn’t understand, because we want to actually progress Venom. We sort of want to take Venom into this century… you know… corny, corny… everyone’s on millennium frenzy. We don’t really mean that. It’ s not just a reunion that we put together. We saw immediately, when we were playin’ the live songs, like “Evil One” and the crowd reactions… that we could actually keep this goin’. You know? When people say “come back”, it usually takes a week and they’re fucked up again. It’s like. we’ve been sort of back together no since ‘95. So there is a future in this, and we want to push this band. But what we don’t want to do is be influenced by other types of music, whether it’s Marilyn Manson or whoever. I mean, I quite like the Nine Inch Nails stuff. I think it’s fuckin’ insane, especially the first couple of albums. But everything else from then has always just been a rip off of Trent Reznor. The originators usually have the best ideas. I don’t really see that Venom can go down that kind of path. Venom are all about fuckin’ pickin’ up guitars and playin’ drums and gettin’ hot and sweaty, not pushin’ a whole load of buttons and lettin’ a load of machines do it.
The songs on Resurrection seem very radio-friendly, that is, until the profanity kicks in, making them commercially unplayable.
That’s the Zappa influence.
It just seems very ironic to me because they do seem almost like they were written for radio at points, but then just blatantly saying “Fuck you!”… it’s just sabatoging it.
Well, it’s the Zappa bit that’s comin’ out there. But we definitely didn’t think that because it’s a fuckin’ angry album for us. I mean, we spent a year fightin’ with lawyers, and all sorts of bullshit, and not playin’ the music, which was very frustrating. And the only way that we could get that frustration out when we started doin’ the new songs was actually just to write the most aggressive shit that we could, and that even goes with the titles and everything. I mean, even walkin’ into rehearsal one day after I’d lent Mantas the “Load” album of metallica… and this is definitely a fact, DEFINITELY… 100%… I lent Mantas the fuckin’ “Load” album and he comes runnin’ into rehearsal, like threw it on the floor, and just yelled “What the fuck’s that SHIT?!” And he says, “Right. I’ve got a new song called ‘Loaded’.” And he played the, and he said, “This is my answer to that!” So the track “Loaded” is Mantas’ answer to Metallica’s “Load” and “Reload”. This is Mantas sayin’ to Metallica, “This is fuckin’ Loaded!”
It seems lyrics in bands like Bon Jovi and other glamsters were a whole bunch of cliches maybe thrown into a computer, and the computer selected the ones that rhymed. Venom lyrics, in songs like “The Seven Gates of Hell” are very godly. You can actually send them to a newspaper for a poetry contest. No, I’m just kidding.
I know what you mean, though, because that’s how they start. That’s how all my lyrics start. They just start as a rhyme, an anecdote, a saying, a quip, something I’ve caught off the tv, walkin’ down the street, whatever… I mean, i do just sort of pick up on generalizations, and then I try to plant the seed and let the thing grow. Even a funny way that one word will go into another word can set us off on a whole wave, writin’ a strange lyric. You know? But also things that you see immediately as well. I was standin’ on stage in Greece and the whole of the fuckin’ audience had a right arm up in the air, like a big fuckin’ fist. And i remember standin’ there and I said to meself, “Standing there, arms out toward you, clenching fists.” And I thought, fuckin’ hell, that’s a lyric straight away. They’re all stretchin’ their arms out towards you, clenchin’ fists, and it’s one of the opening lyrics to the songs on the new album… Pandemonium. Things can come to me at any time. If you start wrtin’ on a catchy riff, then it’s gonna become somethin’ that will have a flow. I’m not into one of these songs… even like the Bon Jovi stuff… it’s so predictable. Fell in love/fell out of love. You know… again and again and again. It’s good to have fun with words, sometimes. And being English, you know, fuckin’ we’re renown for it anyway. we like to fuck around with our wonderful accents. (cackles)
And you also like to use really intense adjectives for the most simple things… like “frightfully” good. The lyrics in songs like “Seven Gates of Hell” are timeless. However, on the new album… and this is not an insult…
Well I’d like you to speak your mind.
It just seems that there are more 20th century phrases… maybe cliches.
How did you let that happen?
Because I think it’s just NOW. I feel it’s right to do that now. A lot of that stuff seemed like the right lyric to use at the time. I think we’re bein’ more aggressive with the things we’re sayin’ as well. I mean, we seem to be attacking christ more. We seem to be attacking people more. We seem to be being stronger. I think all of those sort of classic elements of what Venom songs were are sort of peakin’ with this album. I think we’ve sort of encapsulated a lot what Venom is about. There’ll be a track on this album for everybody, type of thing. And that’s how we saw definitely the Black Metal album. We knew that there’s be some fucker who liked at least one song on that album.
Rumor has it that you’re an aerobics instructor. (he laughs) Is that true?
Really? So do you do the step… (we both laugh)
You see what’s so funny? Do you know what it is? I wanna know what it is with guys… they just think it’s so fuckin’ funny, and yet you’ve got me standin’ in a room with like 50 scantily clad women.
Yeah. that’s an enviable position. But aren’t some of them tubs?
No, no, no, no, no.
So do you add erotic hip movements to your routine?
Without a doubt.
That’s so strange. Are you employed at mantas’ gym?
No. He has his own. He mainly just does martial arts. Kickboxing ,tae kwon do, karate… all this sort of stuff. You know? I mean, this is why we were laughing at Abaddon calling his album “Dance Metal.” If you’ve ever seen Abaddon, he’s like tow left feet. So I said to the European press, “Well if Abaddon wants to book the venue, maybe he can sell tickets, and he can stand on stage and demonstrate how you’re supposed to dance to this shit.” You know? I’ll get up there. if he wants to show me the moves, hey, I’ll give it a try. Chances are, he’ll get on stage and fall down drunk and piss himself.
When you get a bad review, do you send Mantas over to the journalist’s house?
Yeah. He is deadly. No! We definitely think people should always speak their mind. We are never hurt by a bad review, the same as when we have a good review… we don’t have a fuckin’ party. We have always made albums for ourselves. Like Possessed… we should have done a lot more work on that album. We’ve only got ourselves to blame. So we kicked ourselves about that. We don’t need anybody else to do it for us. It’s amazing to say that Venom thought that they could have done better on that album. It sells just as well amongst Black Metal and Welcome to Hell and At War With Satan. A lot of people who listen to Venom mustn’t think what we think. They think it’s a cool Venom album. They weren’t in the studio.
I’ve never interviewed a band from England that like d Kerrang. Why is Kerrang anti-English?
They’ve got tongues that are 3,000 miles long and they land right on the New York shore. I haven’t got a fuckin’ clue what their problem is with England. But, like, they’re so renowned for bein’… it’s so obvious, it’s like the fuckin’ snake out of Jungle Book. You know it’s gonna turn on you. You just know. You go to Kerrang. They’ll lick your ass and give you a good review. But you know that next week they’re gonna turn. They’re so predictable and boring. Let’s hype them up and knock them down. Fans decide to buy the records to continue that career, not because some fuckin’ little goose egg in an office is gonna try to make you or break you.
I don’t know about England, but in America, the major metal press is not composed of metalheads. They’re all nerds who used to get beaten up by metalheads. So do you think that this is just revenge against people who stole their lunch money? Seriously. Whenever I attend an event and go into the press room, I never reveal who I am. I just watch, and I’m amazed that these are the people who write about metal. If one were standing next to you at a show and maybe shared an opinion, you’d probably slap him or say, “No offense, but go away.”
When we did the Dynamo in Holland, Slayer did the next day. We sort of hung around the next day so we could watch Slayer up at the side, and there were all these obvious record company dudes with this short hair and fuckin’ suits on. And all the crowd’s like bouncin’ at the same time to this certain Slayer song, and everybody’s got the same groove goin’ down. Everybody’s goin’ up down up down up down up down. There’s these two guys like swayin’ side to side, like as if they’ve got an itch. Totally out of rhythm with everybody else. But you can also see them lookin’ around like, hoping nobody can see them. They were just so out of place. they were so fuckin’ out of place… in the safety of that besides-the-stage ooh-I’ve-got-a-backstage-pass… I felt like runnin’ out and throwin’ the fuckers right in the middle of the mosh pit! It’s like, get out of that one!
I think all metal magazines should have pictures of the writers so you could see who’s writing these reviews.
What we were gonna do… I mean, we never got around to it, we had loads of threats… what we were gonna do was we were gonna put a magazine together that reviewed all the magazines. (cackles) We would be reviewin’ the magazine from a week before. “Well, they slated Aerosmith, the sad bastards.” And just really pull the magazines down.. well, the ones who deserve it, of course. There’s fuckin’ plenty of them. The English press have that… sort of need to want to be different. You know? Even though the rest of the world might say, “Hail Aerosmith! Best band on the planet!” England will go, “Oh, we think they’re shit!” Just to be cunts. just to be sad bastards. Like, “Look, I had to get up this morning. It was still dark, and it was pissin’ down with rain, and cold, and I had to get out of me bed and review this. So fuck you.” It’s really sad, isn’t it?
It was cool watching Venom at the Milwaukee Metalfest.
Were you there? Excellent! We had a great time.
You played Seven Gates of Hell.
Indeed. We opened with it.
I heard you were at the bar, but i was loading in my stuff, and i though, well, maybe later. But later never happened. But it’s great talking to you now. I was wondering if you were happy with everything over there.
We never are. We always plan 210 things and then we get like 20 of them. And that’s always the case with Venom. We always have to oveplan and we always end up disappointed. But hopefully the crowd still get more than what they expected. So we try to get that sort of balance. Venom played 20 minutes late. The reason for that is because some fuckin’ suits came up to us with large fuckin’ wads of paper, saying, “Where’s the license for this pyro? Where’s this? Where’s that? Where’s your granny’s World War I teeth?” You know? It’s like, what a fuckin downer! We had all the signed stuff. We even had special pyro people. And these guys were just being a pain in the ass. One of the bummers with America is some of the laws are just too strict with things like that. Fuckin’ hell. we go to Europe and we practically fuckin’ detonate the country, and everybody loves it, and all the people come out of their houses and watch the pretty fireworks and applaud. And in America they go (in a grumpy voice) “Nope. Can’t set that off.” (cackles) America, the home of the free. You’re free to do whatever you want, but you can’t bring Venom’s pyros.
But you had plenty of pyro action at that show.
Oh yeah. But it was really touch and go because always Venom are in a situation where we say, “Where do we stand if we gotta be forced to walk on a stage if we haven’t got a pyro?” when it’s right there and we’re ready to go. Once the guys sort of tipped their hats and said “We’re out of here” and we got a chance to set the intro tape goin’, that was it. We just fired up in about three seconds. Boom! It was on. It was great. We fuckin’ ran out there. I fuckin’ loved it. It was great to see America after 10-11 years.
That’s more like the armpit of America.
But still, it was hungry faces. This is the thing. I mean, I’m not standin’ lookin’ at a crowd who are in their 30’s. I’m lookin’ at a crowd who are still in their teens. This is a new generation of Venom fans, and they’re singin’ all the fuckin’ lyrics. I’m like, oooh. This is fuckin’ wild. Probably some of the kids in the audience weren’t even born when Welcome to hell was released.
You heard the old Greek tale about the marathon runner who ran and ran and ran to warn his nation of some army advance, and as soon as he said his piece, he died.
That’s how i felt at the Venom show because I traveled 25 hours in one drive, and I didn’t sleep all day just to watch Venom. By the time you came on, I was the walking dead. And I forgot that there would be a detonation. When it went off, i really thought that I had died. I couldn’t see, and i couldn’t hear. And I didn’t know where I was. (Cronos was laughing the whole time)
That was very good. that was a good story.
That was the only concert event where I was horrified. It was because of the detonation. It just bewildered me. You robbed me of my senses.
(laughs) I tell you what, mate. After we got back to England, I got sent all the VHS videos from every fuckin’ angle. There’s a piece of video footage which is priceless. You could not pay for this. It’s from the mixing desk, and there’s a little bit of area where the mixing desk ends and where the kids start. There’s these two guys standin’ there. And you can see Venom on stage, and we’re goin’ through Countess Bathory. And when we set the huge big flames off, as the flames dies down, the two kids at exactly the same time turned around and looked at each other and sort of like waved a fist like “YEEEEEEESSSSSSSS! DID YOU SEE THAT?!!” I could not have paid them to do that. That reaction was just totally genuine. It was Countess Bathory. There was the flames. YES!!! Wicked, wicked great watchin’ that stuff.
I heard that Venom commands quite a fee to appear.
Well, yeah. All we do is, we say to the promoter, “You’ve got to be able to cover the cost of a Venom show.” And that included what Venom are gonna bring with pyro and crew and all the rest of it. It’s like what any band asks. I mean, we don’t walk away from gigs with pockets full of money. It’s not feasible to do that. The promoter’s gonna say, “Well, we can put X amount of money into it.” And whatever a regular band would then do and say, “Well, this is fee.” we have to say, “Well that is pyro and that is this and that is that.” We always wanna bring our own equipment. We always wanna bring our own guitars and amps and all the fuckin’ rest of it. A lot of bands, they’ll just take their guitars, and they’ll have all the rest of the gear provided. They’ll use any old amp. They’ll any old speaker. What the fuck. Venom aren’t like that because we like to get that Venom sound, and we feel that we can do that with amps that we trust. So that’s all extra fuckin’ air fares. It’s all extra carriage and trucks and all the rest of it. It’s a realistic fee, and some people can do it. It all depends on the venue and the area and to whether we have a big enough following.
It’s great that you clarified that because when people say that Venom commands a high price, it’s more a snobbish sort of thing. So you’re not living in the lap of luxury because of your random appearances.
Not really. The less live work that Venom do then the richer we get because then we can spend our royalties on ourselves. But as soon as we get into road stuff, hands always have to go into pockets to buy things. I mean, mantas has already been out buyin’ personal pyro and settin’ them off in his backyard. Strappin’ them to his guitars… he’s tryin’ to get these Ace Frehley rockets. A big KISS fan. He wants to fuckin’ have fuckin’ warheads comin’ out of his fuckin’ guitars.
I’ve heard quotes that you said when you started you wanted to be the best. Is that the best musically, or as far as showmanship?
Well it was a combination of our influences because we loved KISS and Priest and Sabbath and Tull and all these bands who had a stage show and who wore stage costumes and who were slightly untouchable and larger than life. So we didn’t want to be the regular t-shirt and jeans band. So we were really influenced by supergroups, and we wanted to be a supergroup. I remember that we used to say that Venom are all of the bands that have preceded us, thrown into a pot and mixed up. That is Venom. We have the KISS show. We have the Judas Priest leather. We have the hard core Sabbath lyrics. So you can actually section Venom off into all those kinds of influences. The same as you look at death metal and speed metal and all that now.. you know, all the Norwegian metal. You can see where they took this off Venom or where they took that off Venom, and progressed it all in their own ways. It’s all about influences, and i think that’s what makes music grow. When people take a little bit and then move it on another stage.
In the old days the extreme metal art was new, and there was a lot to be learned about recording that kind of music.
I’m also pretty sure that the recording budget for you in those days was pretty low.
Welcome to hell… we had actually… because i worked at the studio, I convinced the engineer to work for free. “If we come in for a few hours, will you work for free?” Yeah, because he was a mate. So then i went and talked to the studio boss, and said, “The engineer said he was gonna work for free. Can I bring me band in? There’s nobody in the studio. Fuckin’ blah blah blah.” He’s like, “Yeah”. So I was able to scam Venom into the studio for free to get some demos done. Now I’m then playin’ them for the record company. they’re like, “No. It’s shit.” Yeah, it’s like little Conrad’s band. You know? I was like, “This is wicked, this is wicked.” And they were like, “No. It’s lousy.” They had all these Ravens and Tigers of Pantang and like lame shit. So eventually the record company said, “Look. There’s three days spare. Go in and see what you can do.” So we had three days, and we recorded all of Welcome to Hell. Now that was demos as far as we were concerned. But that was recorded… vocals,solos, everything, mixed, finished. Sunday night, home. And then next week we got the record company saying, “We will release this as it is, now, as an album, or forget it.” We were like, “It’s demos! We’ve got to do it properly. Give at least a week or something.” “No, there’s no more money in the budget left. You release Welcome to Hell as it is, or fuck off.” The next day I walked in with the album cover, sayin’ “Here. Go for it.” which was the same as the single cover. Just very large and gold.
But don’t you find it strange that there are many bands, especially today, who are using adjectives like “true” to describe their metal? They romanticize the recording quality of those old days. You can’t possibly prefer that sort of production.
Well not me. I wanna improve it. I mean, a guy in Europe I was talkin’ to, he said the new album production is really crisp, and he likes the sound of the dirtier old albums. And i said, “No problem, dude. Put it on your hifi. Take all the treble off, all the top end. Turn your fuckin’ speakers up to full blast. It will sound like shit.” If you like to listen to things like you’re in some fuckin’ swamp. No problem. Put the album on and stick your head under the bath. Stick your head in the fuckin’ water. What the fuck? we’re goin with the times and we’re cleanin’ up our sound. but we’re tryin’ to fuckin’ make it heavier at the same time. I don’t think the crispness of the album has taken away from the fact that it also rattles the shelves. If I put that on next to Cast in Stone, it’s a fuckin’ louder heavier album. you’ve got to turn the thing down. You know? It’s like a beast. Amazing.
What would you say to those people who accuse you of… maybe this might be a little strong to say… it’s inappropriate anyway.. of selling out, because it’s too clean compared to the primitive sound of the old days?
I just think Venom are dead if we don’t move on. I think that was the point of this reunion.. so that we could progress it into a resurrection of Venom, because it was obvious that, yes, we’re gonna do the reunion. But we’re not gonna tour that forever. We’re either gonna put some new songs into it, or we’re gonna become some fuckin’ parody of ourselves. There’s a lot of bands in England who were famous in the ‘70’s, like Sweet and Mud and all these sort of like glam rock bands. they’re now together with all these different members, and they’re doin’ the clubs. they’re playin’ to like 20 people a night. And they’re singin’ the songs of their hits. It’s really sad. And we didn’t want anything to do with that.I mean, we had to take this band on, and it works. If people don’t dig it and don’t buy the albums, well then that’s the death of any band. If fans don’t want a band to continue, then just don’t support them and don’t buy the records. So it’s really them who determine Venom’s future. The fact that Venom are here 20 years later is because we’ve had consistent sales with what we’ve done that’s had enough companies to keep their eyebrows raised to say, “Here are some deals.” You know? As soon as that stops, as soon as Venom become has-beens and are washed out and the deals stop and the money stops then the band is fucked. So I think the only way to do this is to progress. I do think that we’ve only progressed slowly, though. I think we’ve only progressed in a small way. We haven’t changed our music or style. We’re not wearing different clothes. We haven’t cut our hair. We haven’t put make-up on. All we’ve really done is crisped up the production. All of the other elements of Venom are there. It’s always been Mantas and I who write all the songs. So we’ve lost nothing as far as the writing team is concerned. So all we’ve got now is a tighter drummer and a better sound. So I think we’re a fuckin’ winner with this one.
In demonology there was a rebellion in hell, where one faction wanted to keep mankind ignorant, and the other wanted knowledge, saying that new knowledge is new ways of evil. And I think new Venom is like that. i really liked the newer version of Manitou that was on Cast in Stone. But some people laughed at me and called me a poser. How could you say that I’m a poser?
A poser likin’ Venom… this is not right somehow, is it? A punk with a suit on. You now?
You’ve probably seen it yourself. Some people just try to out-underground everybody around them. There are other ways to get social power than to just knock everything. But I think you make effective use of sound. Your voice definitely needs that better production. You should do some speaking parts on some cd rom games.
Yeah. I did some for the new Exorcist movie.
It was said that you once renounced the dark side to your lyrics, saying that it’s purely a gimmick.
I never really said that. I speak from experiences and emotions and all the rest of it. I believe that today a lot of people… we’re not under the inquisitors anymore, and we haven’t been for hundreds of years. everybody’s resorting to more natural methods. everybody’s standing up for themselves more. i mean, even to the point of using aromatherapy and getting into natural herbs and everything. The whole sort of belief structure is changing. around the whole world as well. The witches are free and roaming all over, and there’s nothing to stop it. So the factions of hell i would have been on the side of would have been the ones of knowledge.
Interview with Ronnie James Dio conducted by Bill Zebub for Issue #8
I have heard that thou wert in a 50’s band.
Well, I never could understand that because everyone thinks I was a doo-wop singer or something. No, I mean, I had a band at the end of the ’50’s when I first started. But I wouldn’t consider us to be a ’50’s band.
What was that music like? Didst thou have the classic biker hair-doo?
I was never a biker, to tell you the truth – I think we were just getting pissed off about everything that “was” and didn’t want to be that anymore. So I think we were trying to create our own identity. That was a real transitional time anyway. We were just greasy bastards like everybody else.
That music is no longer available?
I certainly hope not. It’s part of what your life is. But, you know… It’s so far away from where I took myself.
Art thou vocally trained?
How is it that thy notes are very true when singing live?
I got a great ear. I started playing when I was real young – playing the trumpet. I played all the way through high school. I got a real good sense of musicality, I think, from that. But I think most of it’s pretty natural. You either got a good ear or you don’t. It’s real hard to teach a good ear. So again,, for me, I’m pretty much always in tune.
I heard something that happened when thou wert in Black Sabbath. It is very vague. But it had something to the effect of thou having an agreement with the band about public appearances with Ozzy. There was a show in which Ozzy might have come on stage, and the rumor is that thou walked off and never reappeared for the remainder of the tour, and Rob Halford took thy place for that one show.. Does that strike a bell?
Well, it had nothing to do with Ozzy being there, because Ozzy wasn’t there. We had about a month of touring to do from the East Coast, where we started, to the West Coast again. At the beginning of that tour it was already booked that we were going to be playing in Long Beach. We were going to get rid of that gig and open up for Ozzy, not once, but twice… in Costa Mesa. It was at that point that I refused to do those shows. We carried on and did the entire tour… until the last two shows in Costa Mesa, where Rob did go in and took my place. But that was all, really. It wasn’t a personal thing. It had nothing to do with Ozzy. Well, it being “Ozzy” made a big difference. I had left my band. They had left whatever situations they had… led us to reform Black Sabbath again, and to take it to other places… not just with one album… having thrown all those things away that were very personal for me, and going for the Sabbath entity, I felt that… for us to suddenly have to open for the actual lead singer who never really had anything good to say about any of us after it was all over, plus the fact that from the rumblings that I had heard… they were pushing really hard for a reunion anyway… So I felt that at that particular show they were probably going to announce that there was going to be a Sabbath reunion with Bill and Tony and Geezer and Ozzy. And that’s exactly what happened! I just felt that it was not correct for us as the Black Sabbath that we had re-invented to be the opening act for Ozzy. Whatever proportion that got blown out of is beyond me. It’s just me standing up for what I believe. I believed it for the band, not for me. It wasn’t a personal thing for me… opening up for the actual lead singer who had nothing but bad things to say about us, especially Tony. I think the sense of money was stronger than the sense of pride. They did the show. I didn’t. And that was the end of the day for me with the band.
The rumors made thee look like a brat. Well, that’s always the way. I’d have to take that everywhere that I’ve gone. “I’m difficult…” which is completely untrue. “I’m self-centered.. “ which is
absolutely untrue. Again, the things that I do, I do for all the people in the band. I thought every band I ever was in was going to last forever, each and every one – even the reformation with Sabbath. But you have to go into it with that attitude, not like Ian Gilan did when he did the album after me, the “Born Again” album. “Oh thank you very much. Oh, Purple’s ready? Off l go!” That was all so pre-planned and predisposed, and that really bothers me. But any way, I’m the one who supposedly took the blame for it because I didn’t do the shows. Maybe I was at fault. But what could I be at fault for? They DID play the shows. They seemed very happy to do them. They seemed happy with Rob. I’m sure he did a great job. And they got a chance to announce that they were going to re-form and make a lot of money, which I’m sure made them all happy until Ozzy said, “Aah… I was only kidding. “ By that time, whoever had set about to destroy what we had put together again,did a really good job of it. A lot of it was very well thought out by someone.
Wouldst thou say that thou left Black Sabbath on bad terms?
As usual, we kinda left on “no” terms. We never had a lot of communication except for the early days. Tony is a really nice, funny person. I don’t think that we harbor any resentment for each other, except for a couple of little instances. But I’m sure that if we saw each other right now, it would be exactly the same as it always has been – a hug and a “hey!”
I heard that thou left because they wouldn’t let thee play trumpet on any of their albums.
Trumpet AND bongos. That’s what really pissed me off. ‘They wouldn’t let me play bongos.
To a man who had once sold out arenas how does it feel to be reduced to a tour of small clubs?
It doesn’t feel any different to me. It never has. I’m a musician. I always have been. That’s all I ever wanted to do. And I have been all these years. So I accomplished goal #1. Playing in arenas just happens to be a by-product of some of the success you have. I never asked for that either. It makes you want to be on stage. It’s very impressionable to the young mind. But it wasn’t really the be-all/end-all for me. Luckily, I was able to get to that point. I just take life for what it is. I’ve always been really realistic about it. If you could have one good career that lasts you like 5 years tops, then you’re pretty damn lucky because this is a brutal business where you come and go very quickly. I’ve been lucky. I had careers three different times. Four or five, really… from ELF…
Elf? Don’t you mean “Dwarf”?
Interview with Eric, conducted by Bill Zebub for issue #27
A long time ago I had read a few articles in which King Diamond was said to have cast a spell on Manowar because they fucked him over in some way – maybe having something to do with not letting merciful Fate borrow some amplifiers. Years later, when I had asked King Diamond about this, he refused to say anything bad about Manowar, and he declined my offer of letting him give the un-edited story, dismissing it as simply a thing of the past. The stories in the old magazines didn’t really fit the character of King Diamond and it seemed that they blew the story out of proportion. The truth was probably far less interesting than the fictional drama that was presented by those charlatan journalists. When I spoke with Eric, the singer of Manowar, I told him what I had heard, and I asked him if he would give his side of the story. I made it clear to him that I distrust metal media, and that I am not going to fuck him over. As he told the tale of those early days, I thought to myself that I had a gold mine, especially because my interview would embarrass those so-called “professional journalists. But as Eric spoke, I sensed that he was under the impression that King Diamond had bad-mouthed him, and I explained to Eric that King Diamond could have devoted entire chapters of ant-Manowar sentiment in my magazine in any of the countless interviews I had done with him, but King always refused to say anything negative about Manowar, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the metal press had misquoted King, and Eric and I both laughed because he was no stranger to being misquoted in the press himself. So rather than print herein that first segment of my conversation with Eric, let me just say that my prediction was true – the actual story behind those dramatic headlines of the past were entirely false, and I am happy to report that Eric finally was made aware that King never badmouthed him – it was the lies of the media. I would like you to take this time to appreciate how cool I am. Just kidding. What I do want you to do is to always question what you read because you are probably not aware of the motives behind an article or review (and that goes for what you read in the Grimoire too).
(editor’s note – Strangely, after getting Eric to talk about the past, my tape recorder ate the tape and stopped suddenly, so I had to waste some time putting Humpty Dumpty back together again)
(Eric) What are you doing, man? (laughs)
It’s a Satanic curse.
(Laughs) I gotta show a little respect for King. Let me tell ya, it happened so goddamn long ago. What’s the big deal? That’s how I look at it now. There’s King Diamond fans. There’s Manowar fans. There are Manowar fans that are King Diamond fans. You know? At the end of the day, you wanna go see King Diamond – go see him. You wanna see Manowar? Come see us. It’s what the fans want. You know? Bullshit – at the end of the day – should be swept under the carpet. It’s water under the bridge now.
Yeah. I just wanted to destroy any kind of stupid rumors.
Yeah. Both our careers are still riding high right now. So, I mean, who cares about it now? It’s over and done with. That’s the way it goes.
I’m just glad that I finally heard the real deal.
Well, you heard it from me, anyway. That’s exactly what I remember happening. I think this happened in ’84. It was a long long time ago. We treat everybody who opens up for us with total respect. We really do. We always have.
Have you ever been told that you guys play too loud?
(laughs) All the time, brother!
I used to never understand why people wore earplugs until I saw you guys.
(laughs) Personally, I think that metal music should be played loud. It’s powerful music. If you’re gonna be playing loud, you not only have too see metal – you have to feel it. So I wanna be in that crowd and I wanna feel that bass drum hit me in the chest. I think that’s part of the show. I want that when I’m out there. It goes with the territory. It’s gotta be loud.
Are you vocally trained?
No. I had to learn how to do it from the school of hard knocks. Hard Knocks University. I think it’s just from years and years and years and years of being out there, singing, finding out what works for me and what niche I can get into to make it so I don’t have a sore throat at the end of the night. (laughs) I found a way that works for me. I sing from my diaphragm. I don’t sing from my chest any longer. When I do that I find that I have control and I don’t have a sore throat.
There was a period of time in which I was trying to find someone to teach me opera. This girl I talked to told me that it’s harder to sing metal than it is to sing opera. (I laugh) I noticed on your new album that you are actually singing an opera song.
I did study opera to do that. I did go into the city and I studied with an opera singer. And I don’t know if I agree with that (editor’s note – that metal is harder to sing than opera), maybe because I was brought up with metal. Opera was a whole new thing for me. To learn how much wider your mouth has to go when you’re singin’ opera – it’s unbelievable. To really project and to make it sound like it’s supposed to sound – it was a lot to learn. It was a lot of work, man.
I’m pretty sure that the girl who told me this only said that because she was training metal vocalists. I don’t think she had an opera background.
Yeah. It’s definitely two different styles. The only thing that you can say about both is that, to sing correctly you have to sing from the diaphragm. But opera is an entirely different thing. Opera is more breath control.
Bands on tour have maybe a drum tech, a guitar tech, but manowar is the first band I heard of that actually has a Harley tech.
That’s true! (laughs) That’s right! (laughs hard) You’re right, brother! Well come on! You’re talking to a band that, when we’re on tour for Europe we have a tour bus for the crew, a tour bus for the band, and a tour bus for the chicks! And that’s true! (laughs) Yeah, we have a Harley tech. It’s pretty wild. But we’re kinda known for doing pretty wild and different things. Scott is his name. He comes on the road whenever we bring the Harleys out. He takes care of the bikes. That’s his gig.
So you guys would never park outside of a biker bar with Japanese bikes.
No, no! (laughs) I wouldn’t own one, brother! (laughs hard)
It seems that bikers are pretty Manowar-knowledgeable. One particular guy, Jay, asked me how you feel about terrorism. Manowar is supposedly very pro-American.
I don’t know about being pro-American. I mean, we’re proud to be Americans, sure. We’ve has songs that talked about, and still do talk about heroism. We talk about how when things are down lift yourself up. Be a leader, not a follower. Believe in yourself and do what you feel is right. Fuck everybody. Don’t take shit from other people. We’ve always had songs – from Battle Hymns – biker songs. We still do. It’s kinda our life. We’ve always ridden bikes. It’s part of a lifestyle. It goes with it all.
Someone wanted me to rib you about the bass player wanting to be the singer of the band because he likes to talk between songs, but he couldn’t pull it off so he got you. Why is it that he talks between songs?
(laughs heartily) Because I get very little time to go backstage and sip on water and do whatever I have to do. That’s my only time I really get to rest up. All I can tell ya’ is that that’s my time – when he talks. It also gives a different perspective. People hear my voice all night long. And every other band – the lead singer does all the talking between songs. Because everybody else does it we decided not to do it. Sometimes Scott will get up and say something. If I’m singing all night long, you heard my voice enough. If Joey’s got something to say, he says it. His time to say it is a certain time in the set. It gives me time to do whatever I have to do – either change my outfit or do whatever I do backstage or talk to some chick backstage – whatever.
There are some death metal vocalists who speak in a normal tone between songs and they sound kind of gay, so I was wondering if you were ashamed of your speaking voice.
(we both laugh) You know, as a matter of fact, the new show that we do, it’s just one big medley of Manowar songs. There’s no talking in between. There’s no talking until the very end of the night. The songs just go into one another. There’s no rest at all. Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang. It’s pretty rip-roaring ass-ripping.
I don’t know what happened to Ross the Boss. Was that a friendly thing?
Oh yeah. Ross came up to us after Kings of Metal and told us that his heart was into blues, and he wanted to play a more blue-sy style of music. Hey man, ya’ gotta be happy. So we said OK. He finished the album with us and put his heart and soul into the album, and then it was time for him to move on. We want him to be happy. So we did what we had to do. Sure, we’re still very close friends. He was just here to sign the albums for the Silver Anniversary Edition. He came up and autographed albums. As a matter of fact I think he’s on tour right now with Manitoba’s Wild Kingdom. We’re still close friends. It’s not like I talk to him every day. I mean. All past members of Manowar are on really good terms. We own our own record label now – Magic Circle Music. Rhino, our old drummer- he’s got a project coming out on Magic Circle, and so does David, our guitar player. Once you’re in the band Manowar it’s like an inner circle of brothers, and that never changes.
Unless of course you buy a Japanese bike.
(laughs) Unless you buy a Japanese bike. Then you’ve got to do some explaining.
Manowar had Viking lyrics before this whole black metal explosion. I was wondering you were considered Viking metal, like Into Glory Ride. How do you feel about the Viking theme in that explosion?
It’s always been our image right from Day One – to bring music back to its origin. People were getting out of hand and it was more important to see a balloon blow up backstage. That got the biggest applause. You know who I’m talkin’ about. That got the biggest applause when people started blowin’ up fire and bombs on stage. That got the biggest applause of the night. People were kinda losing the fact that music is why people get out there. So we’re trying to bring that back to its roots. That’s how we started singing about Vikings and that whole image. It was a strong powerful image. Think about it. I don’t know if you’ve ever been up in that area – Sweden or Norway – but it isn’t like Florida. The weather’s pretty shitty and these guys are out there in ships in those days, out conquering the fuckin’ world. Some bad-ass guys back then. The whole image was a cool image to have. We thought, no one else has done this, so let’s do it. We pioneered it. It’s amazing how other bands now – you pick up albums in the heavy metal section – how many bands carry swords? It’s incredible.
I was always wondering if you were aware of that movement, but touring with Immortal, you became aware if you didn’t know about it before.
We’re pioneers in a lot of things. We’re the first band to record digital music – full digital sound. We’re the first band to record with symphonies behind us. And now we’re the first band ever to record in Super Audio CD format. It’s a brand new format that’s just coming out. Phillips approached us when we were in Europe mixing this album. They wanted to know if we’d be interested in being the first band to come out with Super Audio CD. It made sense. We’ll do it. It enhances the sound. It’s like we can put the audience on stage. So if you’re listening to Warriors of the World in Super Audio CD format, you can hear the drums behind you, the vocals in front of you, the bass on your right and the guitar on your left. Pretty cool. We put you right up on stage. I think it’s the future of music.
Did you guys ever play Dungeons and Dragons?
I did when I was younger.
You can’t hide it.
(laughs) Is that right?
Actually, I used to play Into Glory Ride just to get in the mood. That was the pre-game album. Almost everybody I know raises the horns for that album. It’s a must-have metal album.
I don’t know if it was a turning point for us, but it was the favorite of a lot of people.
Were you aware that Anal Cunt did a cover of Gloves of Metal?
Yeah. I heard it. It’s hilarious.
Were you the guys who invented the “Death to False Metal!”?
Yeah, we were. That’s another thing that everyone picked up on. We’re the ones who started that because there were too many bullshit artists out there who were passing themselves off as musicians. They can only be a musician in the studio where they have all the gimmicks. Then when they go out on stage they’re fuckin’ their fans because they can’t play live.
Would you agree that Germany still holds the flame for power metal?
I don’t think it’s just Germany. It’s throughout Europe. It’s Brazil. It’s Japan. Metal’s pretty happening everywhere, except the United States. I think it’s a couple of reasons. MTV is one. They just refuse to play metal. I think radio’s another. They refuse to play metal. And record companies don’t want to spend the money to keep metal bands on the road. It’s an expensive proposition. The metal fans that are out there are true metal fans. They believe in the band, just like anywhere else in the world. Anywhere else in the world you’d be playing for 10,000 people a night.
I think it’s kind of silly how yuppies turn their noses upwards at the mention of metal, but if you compare the lyrics, metal is cerebral and the other is full of words like “Yeah baby.” So I don’t understand how they can look down on something that’s superior.
It’s just got a bad rap in America.
Or rap is bad.
Yeah, I’m really mad about rap, especially the hybrid of metal and rap.
So I guess you don’t have that in your record collection.
No way! That, or country. Ok?
Is it true that Manowar is at war with Nevermore?
No. Not at all. I’ve never head that we were at war with them.
It’s one of two stories. Either Warrel Dane uccuses you of ripping off his style of singing, or I heard that in the early days some girl called him a Valkyrie, but as an insult, and he didn’t know that a Valkyrie was a girl, so he kept telling everyone that he was a Valkyrie, and he found out that the Manowar lyrics showed the truth that A Valkyries were female, he wanted to put you guys down to silence the fact.
No. I never heard about that. That’s news to me.
I just made that up.
(Laughs) You fucker! (laughs) They’ve been around for a while, and I think they play from the heart. If they play from the heart and not from the wallet then it’s true metal. If you wanna make money from this business, be an entertainment lawyer.
What’s the story with Metal Blade and your Magic Circle label?
I couldn’t answer. Joey deals with all that.
Because he likes to talk.
(laughs) That’s right!
Interview with Peter Steele conducted by Bill Zebub for issue #10
There are people who have heard the radio hits like “My Girlfriend’s Girlfriend” who don’t even want to give the album a chance because of that. It seems that Type O Negative has bi-polar disease. You have songs like that, and then you have songs like “Bloody Kisses”.
I guess that makes us schizo-phonic. I mean, I can write really poppy stuff and I can write stuff from my heart… you know, really slow songs about self pity and death and all the good things in life. And I think that I would rather write songs about the latter, the things that come from my heart and from my balls -not things that will come from my bank account ultimately.
You have bowed out of music before. After Carnivore you had a good job for the city. And you’re hooked right back in with Type O. Do you think that after this dissolves, as you say, that you might be seduced back to the dark side yet again?
Anything is possible. But you know, I think this so-called rock music is the youth. And I believe that it should be played by youth… and at 36 years old, I mean, I don’t feel like an old man, but when I’m on stage and I see 16/17 year old kids up in the front row, I’m like, “Wow. those could be my kids”. When the day comes that I’m on stage and I say, “Those can be my grandkids” then that day’s never gonna come. So, with this album, if I don’t make my mark now, then I think I’m never gonna make it. I’ll just move onto something else. You now what I’d really like to do is really fuck the record company and just… even after this next album, just finance my own recordings and take out a PO Box and sell my CD’s really cheap, like $5 each, to kids that just want to listen to what else I’ve been doing. It wouldn’t be such a money-making thing. It would be misery loves company, and I’m great company. So send me five bucks and I’ll send you a horrible CD of my latest music.
Ah… the self-deprecating style.
No, it’s the truth. It is complete objectivity. I look in the mirror and I see nothing more than 240 pounds of really low-quality chemicals. And that’s about it.
I saw in your video that you’re quite the vitamin boy.
Yeah, I got a lot of stuff there. Most of it’s legal.
You’re not talking about that caffeine-like substance that gave a weightlifter a heart attack.
Oh, that was ephedrine. No. Toxicity is a matter of quantity. If you overdo anything you’re gonna die from it. So I don’t get freaked out when some kind of new substance comes out and somebody dies of a heart attack, because if you overdo it or if you have a problem that makes you susceptible to some of the side effects, then you’ve got to be careful. But otherwise, no balls, no glory.
The health thing… was that a sudden idea for you?
No, I’ve been working out for the past seven years consistently, sometimes more intensely than others. But I always try to maintain myself, somehow to, I guess, feign off old age. And part two is, no one likes to see a fat bastard up on stage trying to look sexy while there’s thirty pounds of fat hanging over the sides of his pants.
I didn’t know you were so conscious of such things.
Sure man. I think when you go to see a band it’s not just a sonic thing. It’s a visual thing as well. I think the people who are up on stage should have some kind of acknowledgement of self-image. It doesn’t mean that you have to be conceited. But if you’re not looking so good and you can change it, well change it. If not,well then get the fuck off the stage.
The first album “Slow, Deep, and Hard” had gruff vocals and it had traces of Carnivore in there.
That’s because probably at least half the songs were left-over Carnivore songs.
Then “Bloody Kisses” had a sudden turn… no warning at all. But in the Carnivore song “Male Supremacy” it showed that you can sing.
It shows that I at least try. Let’s put it that way. I think after “Slow, Deep, and Hard” I realized anybody can scream their head off. Anybody can do this. I think it takes not so much more talent, but at least more effort to attempt to sing on key and try to work out a melody that people might remember. I’ve had people come up to me and say, “You know, Pete, I think you’re a fuckin’ dick, but I just can’t get your songs out of my head.” And I’m like, I don’t know whether I should thank you or punch you.
And King Diamond… what do you think of his vocals?
I really can’t say anything bad about him. Just because I’m not a fan of his music doesn’t mean that I can’t appreciate what he does. When I was into heavy metal I thought he was great. you know, like ten years ago. The mere fact that he stuck with it and that he can still reach those high notes.. I don’t know, maybe he’s got a C-clamp on his balls… I don’t know. But I think that’s worthy of a compliment. But I think that men should sound like men, which is not putting him down, but if I’m gonna hear somebody sing in soprano, this person should have a vagina.
The reason I asked you was, in the song “Love You To Death” you had a vocal style that I hadn’t heard before, and it had a bit more emotion to it… sort of like King Diamond.
You confess to that, then?
I confess that some of the vocal stylings that I use come from metal. I mean, I was always into bands like Sabbath and Priest and Deep Purple. But I’m not going to say that any of my techniques come from King Diamond.
There have been things that your record label has suggested to you that got you into trouble. Weren’t you told to be very outrageous in a series of interviews and you said “Rape is a beautiful thing?”
Well, it seems like the person that was interviewing me that time failed to realize that I was being sarcastic. This guy who actually interviewed me in my own house and was sitting on my furniture and after me making him coffee had the balls to go and turn this into something that made me look really unfavorable. Of course, having five sisters and five nieces, rape… the only punishment for rape is castration, which should be done by the woman who was raped. So it was sarcastic. I guess you can call it a joke in poor taste which I do regret. But I regret not having met this writer after he wrote this, because I am going to… let’s see, pick him up and break him over my knee like a piece of really cheap plywood.
But you wouldn’t rape him because then he’d have to castrate you.
Would I rape him? Maybe with my bass.
Would you say that your attitude toward women was reflected in albums?
My main problem with women is that I base my entire existence around them and I love them to death. That’s why I get so upset when they fuck me over or when they walk out on me. So it’s not that I think that women are any different than men because I think that men actually fuck over women more. It’s just that I hate people in general. I’m a specist. Human beings are the lowest forms of life. We are the only species that will shit where we eat.
“Shit” has a significance. You shit on your own picture.
Yes, that was actually real shit, by the way.
In some cultures that’s used as a sign of manliness. He who shits the biggest log…
Do you now how much talent it takes to actually be able to shit on cue? I went to catholic school for eight years to learn how to do that.
In interviews you often complain about the facilities on tour.
Yes, I am a person who is very comfortable being home. I’m a person who likes a routine. I don’t like the fact that when you’re on tour you can’t date when you want, you can’t even take a shit when you want, you can’t eat when you want, you can’t even do laundry when you want. So it’s like you have to seize every opportunity you can to do the thing you have to do at the time because you never know when it’s gonna come, and this is something that I really dislike about touring – which is the other reason that this album may be my last. I’ve been all over this world and I have seen nothing. There was so much touring and so many shows back-to-back.. you pull up, you play, and you leave. That’s it. I’ve seen every highway and I visited every single McDonalds. That’s it.
How did you learn to cope with a bathroom that was less than supreme?
By lining the toilet on the tour bus with a plastic bag that we can crap into. And then if a car cut us off we would make sure that we got ahead of it at some point and just open the window and let loose the bag.
What is your favorite filling for pierogies?
Perogies… they’re way too fattening. Is sour cream in there? Is that what’s, like, normal?
I don’t know. I heard that you were a Polak. So you should be the pierogi specialist.
I have, like, 1/16th Polish blood in me. So I never even tasted one.
What else comprises the Pete Steele make-up?
Icelandic, Russian, and Scottish.
I heard that after reading up on Chinese legends, possibly even being in China, rumor has it that you found out about the Chinese vampire and you wanted to bring in a Chinese woman to do keyboards for you… to bring that particular legend into the gothic scene.
That’s complete news to me. I never said anything like this. I have never even heard of a Chinese vampire.
Well supposedly the way we have heard of the European vampire changing into bats and wolves… the Chinese vampire changes into a snake and he doesn’t bite his victims. He constricts his victims. And you thought that this was more romantic.
I certainly don’t think so.
I created that rumor, by the way.
I don’t know what to say. You had me going there.
I’m sorry about that. Have you ever been mistaken for a woman?
I told you I was going to ask you dumb questions.
Have you ever met Pat, from Red Stream?
From Red Stream?
Yeah, it’s a label in Pennsylvania. (editor’s note – the label is now in Florida)
Possibly. I’m not sure. Is this a male or a female “Pat”?
Well, he has feminine tendencies.
It could just be that he’s affectionate.
Well I don’t know. I meet quite a few people, and if I did meet him I would probably recognize him by face and not by name.
I heard he offered you a deal for some alternate recordings and that you were at his house. He lives kind of on farmland.
And you were quite taken by his donkey “Pierre”. That’s what he calls it. I don’t know why, but you were trying to hand-feed the donkey and that it either accidentally or maliciously bit your favorite bass finger, and that you remember him since then.
Uh… either I was really drunk and I don’t recall any of this, or this guy is just out-and-out lying. I don’t think I ever touched a donkey in my entire life.
Have you ever played Dungeons and Dragons?
No, but Josh was really into that for a while. I like to live my life that way… rather than sit home and gain weight and eat a pint of Haagendaas and wash it down with Absolute Vodka I would rather be out there and doing the exact same things that these people are just fantasizing about with this little board game.
The reason I ask is because you either have a great awareness of various legends throughout the world or you played some sort of fantasy role-playing game.
I’m into my past… Celtic, Norse, Slavic. So I definitely read up on history, and of course, there’s a lot of culture and religion in there and stuff. So from time to time these subjects do come up. But I certainly don’t play any games. I think the last game I ever played was “Twister” and that was with two naked women… which I do not regret.
How much input did you have with the stuff between the videos?
Let’s just say this… it was actually me that came up with the idea that I wanted to put a video out and my main goal was to put out the 5 professionally done videos onto one tape so that the fans who could never find them anywhere could finally go out and buy them if they chose to do so. The second reason being that we were between albums and I thought it would be a good idea to let people know that Type O Negative had not been killed in a Pakistani train wreck and that we are still here and the honeymoon is not over yet. So this is like a bridge over the River Styx… two sides of agony. But to finally answer your question, it was I who came up with the concept, but it was Josh who scanned all the footage and chose all the embarrassing tidbits that took place between videos.
Adding to the self-deprecating style.
But that, you must admit, has been somewhat of a factor in your success.
Oh sure. I mean, i don’t think that I am better than any one of our fans that goes out and buys one of our CD’s. Or, I don’t think that I am better than the bacteria that is all over this fuckin’ phone right now that is probably gonna cause some kind of sickness three days down the line.
When you meet a woman, is she usually a woman who knows you through the band and has all these assumptions about you, or do you like to date outside of the Type O fame?
I like to be with women, whether I meet them through the band or food shopping or if I run over their foot with my car or something. I like them to like me for what’s inside first. Then I’m hoping that they like what’s on the outside too. I think there’s no shame in admitting that the first thing I notice about a woman is how she looks. Then I’m hoping that the inside matches the outside. But I’d rather date a not-so-good-looking woman who has a great sense of humor and is intelligent and confident than some really attractive one who just has a vacuum inside of her.
What is your attitude about death metal?
I think death metal is a great outlet for young people just because it’s heavy, it’s hard, it upsets parents, and pretty much sings or speaks about some of the things that fans of the music can actually go out and do themselves. So I think, just like anything else, death metal is simply a form of sublimation. It’s safe to buy the CD and maybe fantasize about some of the themes. But there’s really not that much worth going to jail for. Some of the subjects that I’ve heard, whether it’s black metal or death metal… I mean, I don’t try to draw the lines too much. For me, that’s like condemning someone to a death sentence ultimately when you put a label on them because once they try to change then the fans are gonna think that they sold out. When I like music I don’t care what you call it. Music, to me, is a pleasing and logical succession of rhythm and tones. That’s how I judge it. I don’t care if a guy has white face paint on or how he looks or how she looks. If I like it, I like it. If I don’t, I don’t.