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“Metal” refers to music that cannot easily be categorized, or that has no strong traits that are associated with any of the subcategories. It is thus simply called “metal” and if you don’t like it, your brain will auto-categorize it anyway,
Sometimes it is appropriate to hear warm distortion in upbeat songs. This album, however, sometimes goes too far into the land of the lowest common denominator. Years ago, some of it would be considered poser-ish, but in the present era, some of the guitar fuzz is welcome.
The retro vibe in some parts doesn’t seem contrived, but it helps to de-poser-ize some of the riffs, I’d say that the songs are best in small doses, like one song in a mixed batch of other bands, perhaps as a palate cleanser, restoring the ear to accept other styles.
The lyrics seem to be in the same radio-friendly vein.
Interview with King Diamond conducted by Bill Zebub for Issue #31 of The Grimoire of Exalted Deeds magazine.
I don’t know if the Abigail 25th anniversary edition is going to be different from the recent remaster. Do you know if it will have the same bonus tracks, or the same audio processing?
That’s what i heard so far. There have been ideas thrown around. What the end result is going to be, I’m not 100% sure right now. There WAS talk about getting it remastered by a topnotch guy. Abigail falls short a little bit. That was unfortunately the one that i feel was not given the right treatment when they did remaster
them. That one turned so bright that it hurts my ears to listen to it. That’s the one where I would say “Well, the older version sounds better.” Now we get the chance to do it right.
I was told that Abigail and Them came out when they were mastered for vinyl, and what that means is that the equalization favored the high end because bass makes wider grooves on the record, and that can limit space.
Well, it sounds fine on the original. What about the others from the same period of time? Right there it kind of contradicts itself. That
doesn’t make sense.
If anyone knows, it’s you, because you have a reputation for being meticulous.
I was listening back and forth, that and the original, when I got it. There was a lot of time pressure on that. I realize that. Things HAD to be done. There was a deadline. So there was no means, time-wise, to go back and re-do it. That’s why, if they remaster, give it to a top-notch guy. If they can’t get the actual master tapes, which I doubt. Well, they might have them still. But if they can’t find them, they can definitely do a killer job just grabbing the old original CD and do it from that. They can get it up to a decent volume without jeopardizing the frequencies.
I had asked you if you had ever been tempted to go back and not just to adjust the equalization, but to actually re-mix the multitrack tapes and remaster in the true sense. You told me that once you do something, you leave it, because you would never be satisfied, no matter what is changed.
Abigail I would never touch. That album has the right feel for what the album’s about, for the TIME. If I had to do that album today it would sound totally different, of course. There’s a different sound that you get today. The things you CAN do today… The Puppetmaster, and even the last live album – those have got some REALLY good sounds, in my opinion. They have a nice spectrum of top to bottom, clarity, and authenticity. Those, I’m very happy with, and also the old Abigail. For that time, it was exactly what it should be. Everything else – I can go in and pick shit apart – high hat too much to one side for my liking, or too crisp, or it interferes too much with the attack of the snare – there are so many things. There are certain blends of some of the choir parts that I would like to change to feature a different part in it that would probably give more of that atmosphere that I was after. So many things. i can go in and change ALL the albums, except Abigail , The Puppetmaster, and the very last live album. Everything else I could definitely go in and go nuts with, and I would probably finish up with something that I would probably, two years from now, NOT be satisfied with. (laughs) It’s a healthy hing to not be satisfied with what you do. That makes you search
continuously for making things better.
Of all the King Diamond albums, did you spend the most time in post-production on Abigail, mixing everything and applying filters and such?
I don’t think so.
What about the actual recording? Was that your longest stretch in a recording studio?
No. (laughs) I can tell you, if you took a metronome and ran it with those songs, you will HEAR that it did not take that long to do. (laughs) There are passages that are speeding up, and then there are passages that suddenly drag down. You can go from a fast verse that
goes faster and faster toward the end of it, then comes this heavy chorus – WHOA! – What a tempo drop! These days, we like to be in time with the songs.
You play with a click track?
And you did not back then?
No. (laughs) You can hear that, big time. If you put it to that test, you can really hear it. Some of those things I remember from back then…
Andy was usually the one who would play a cue guitar in a little booth somewhere in the studio. Mickey would have it in his
headphones. Andy would probably play a little sloppy sometimes, not out of bad intent, but Mickey knew all the parts – he just needed something to show him where he was in the song. So then you don’t have to be that precise because it’s not the real guitar you’re recording. Suddenly Mickey would stop and say, “what the hell?”
And Andy would say, “You’re speeding like crazy!”“I wasn’t speeding! you’re just playing sloppy now!” Those whose-fault-is-it kind of things… When we record today, there is nothing to discuss because you have to be on the beat. That’s the end of it. There is a way to set it up like that so that it’s correct. So those kind of things made for it not taking any longer. It was a very LIVE feel doing it that way. But still, it was an instrument at a time. We never recorded where everybody stands together and plays. Then it would probably take longer than any other album because, with that style of music,
someone would make a mistake through a song. It would just take too long.
The strange this is, Abigail has been hailed by musicians. If musicians themselves are applauding that work, is there sorcery that makes them overlook what you just said? You know how anal some musicians can be when critiquing another artist.
It’s not a bad thing that it speeds up. Sometimes you like that live feel. It’s the kind of feel that you have when you are in a live situation. Most songs, played live, are faster than the studio albums. That’s just the extra adrenaline pumping from having an audience in your face. You totally let go. You get caught up in the mood of the whole thing. It’s not a bad thing. It just gives a different feel. The songs themselves – the writing and the performances – that’s what
made that album what it is. There are also other things. It was the first of the genre where there’s a full-concept horror story with metal music. It had not been done before, ever, by anyone. A lot of bands have done a concept album, but never a horror story. The style was very unique. It was an early part of the career when people had not gotten used to that style. So the album had everything going for it. It’s much easier to make an impact with an album like that at THAT time, than twenty years later when everyone knows your style. They expect you to stay in your style. I would never do a
country album, of course. It’s such a trademark style. You can always tell when it’s us. Fans would not want us to go away from that. The
trademark style has given us a longevity that very few bands experience. It’s still going very well, as you know. Because it’s such a unique style, we were never affected by any trends. We just plow right through on our own little road. But then, we were never right there on the bandwagon when something was very popular and
able to sell a platinum album. That has never meant that much to me. You also know that. The pleasure itself of playing and being able to
have my hobby as a livelihood… I don’t need sixteen Ferrari’s in my garage. It would be nice, but I don’t have those kind of values. I never had. I guess I’m a lot easier to satisfy. That’s the best road for me – the longevity and still being able to have that fun. I have more fun playing those old songs live today than it was when the album came out. It’s a more enjoyable situation now because the guys that are around are the best I’ve ever played with in my life. There’s that
100% trust. They’re not going to screw up. It has to be something serious for that to happen, like an amp blowing up, but we have one of the best crews in the business – I trust them so much that i don’t even o soundchecks anymore, and I have perfect sound… well, as much as is possible. There can be rooms that are weird, like having carpets on the walls. It sucks the sound in. You feel like the whole room you’re playing in died. Nothing bounces off the walls. That’s a weird live feel. I like to feel the reverb of the room and hear a little of the P.A. and the delays it throws out. I feed a lot off that stuff. When the sound is dead, it’s so tough, and the crew can’t fix THAT. But everything is done so pro now, and that give more energy to give a
party party instead of concentrating and thinking about the next part that has problems. There’s not so much to worry about, like in the early days when every man was pretty much his own roadie. That means a lot. I look forward to the high passages today. I know my voice can handle it, unless I’m sick. The very high, long notes, in “Eye of the Witch” for instance; I look forward to that because I can feel like I can show off in some ways. I really do. I feel confident I can hit those notes. Five years ago, when I got to that part, I would wish that I could hear myself properly. It’s not that i can’t make the note, it’s just so that i can hear the note so I can. A lot of those problems I eliminated now. That’s a big part of why we still want to go on the road. All other aspects, you know, I hate. It makes me want to puke to sit on a bus for eight hours, rolling thumbs. You can only do so much of one or another thing. They have only so much DVD’s on a bus. And i can’t sleep on a bus when it rolls. Then there’s bad food, and sometimes no food at all. Lack of sleep. I usually get six hours
every twenty-four hours, but it’s divided into two or three little go’s of an hour and a half or two hours each. Not a whole lot of time to enjoy. The only time I enjoy is that hour and forty minutes on the stage. That’s the highlight every day.
You amass quite a sleep debt. At the end of the tour, do you sleep for sixteen hours straight?
When I get home, I can tell you, I don’t want to talk to friends. I don’t want the phone to ring. I don’t have the energy to speak to a grocery
clerk. I need groceries, the house is empty, and they’re always friendly. “Hey! How was the tour?” That’s the last thing I want to hear. I want to see my bed. I’m tired of sleeping in a soft bed, then a hard, bed, then a soft bed, then a bed where something sticks up in my back. I can tell you, when you get into those kinds of scenarios, you’re always sore.
Getting back to the speeding up and slowing down, maybe musicians hailed it because they considered it to be dynamic.
I think it’s the songwriting and the performances. It’s very melodic and still heavy.. It’s raw. It’s got mood. That’s why it’s one of the albums that I am most satisfied with. And The Puppetmaster too. The moods in that album are much stronger than on Abigail. But it’s an album that came so many years later, and it will NEVER be hailed among the fans as up there with Abigail. It’s a real treat for me because I know how much it takes for an album to be so high in a fan’s opinion. It means that that album has to be a lot better. That’s the pure fact of it. It’s hard to compete with something that was so unique at that time. It was a shock for a lot of people to hear that style for the first time. A lot of fans have said that to me. It’s hard to
compete with yourself in that respect. The things with Abigail that were the hardest to do were not the recording stuff. You have to
remember that, at that time, we were all in the same country, or pretty much. We lived so close that rehearsals were possible. We rehearsed more, together, you can say. There are better musicians now that don’t need that rehearsal time, but back then, the songs were rehearsed by the whole band before we ever went in and
recorded them. With Mercyful Fate, we had even played some of the songs live before recording them. Sometimes for a year we played some of the songs that were later recorded. That’s not the
case later on in the career. We’re spread out all over the world, you know. So that didn’t take as long as one might think And the mixing
process didn’t take as long as you would imagine simply because we didn’t have the means for it to take long. There was no automation. We didn’t have the chance of working for two hours getting specific reverb to open up in the right way in those five words at the end of verse 2, or whatever, and program it in so that it does it itself so we don’t have to worry about it. We spent time on it, came up with ideas, and now it does it by itself. Back then, we had to do it all manually. We were all in on the mix. Everybody’s fingers were on some kind of buttons on the mixing board. That’s why we delegated
in a smart way… and said, “No Mickey, you’re not going to control the snare drum, and Andy, you’re not going to do your own solo.” He’d argue, “Well I know how loud..” No, no, no. Let Mickey do your solo, and you can do Mickey’s snare, and so on. There were little marks. We had done test after test run. How loud should that solo be? Ok, here’s the mark. Don’t go over that mark. And you can be sure that Mickey wouldn’t go over the mark, and visa versa with Andy going over Mickey’s snare. You could trust better , otherwise you would have to
do it again and again and again if people weren’t kept in control.
You should never let people edit their own work.
No, not in that scenario. it was 100% analog. You couldn’t start in the middle. You would have to do the whole thing again. So in that respect, it was a little faster, mixing it. First of all, we didn’t have the capability to go so much in depth with every single little thing. There were not enough hands to do it. You had to do what you needed to do, on the fly. Let the thing roll. So there were limits there. Today there are practically no limits. You could sit and spend three hours on the reverb for five words, and we did, on Puppermaster.
Getting back to the timing thing, there have been Mercyful Fate songs, like when you sing “It is so much colder in here.” That was done purely by feel, not by metronome. Would you make a song like that on a future album?
It’s a different matter for me, as a vocalist. I don’t sing to a metronome. I sing by total feel, no matter. I don’t think that I have ever needed a metronome in a break. If you listen to “No More Me” it’s full of that type of stuff. Those total emotional, feeling-out breaks. It’s nothing but. of course, that song was recorded with a
metronome, but for the vocalist, it’s a totally different matter because you are free. You can go over beats and this and that, and then pick it up, being on a beat later. The more precise they
(the musicians) are, the more free I feel. If they started suddenly speeding up at the end of a verse, and I had to do something, it might not leave me enough space to do an emotional thing. That emotional thing, to fit, would have to be rushed, and that wouldn’t sound right. But when I have that solid tempo going, then I don’t even have to think about it. It’s almost how I feel pitch, for instance. It’s totally automatic, I found out. When Mercyful Fate was playing shows with Metallica in Europe in ‘99, there was a show in Milan where the Metallica guys invited Hank and I to go up and do the whole medley from the Garage Inc. album, all twelve minutes, or whatever, as one of the encores. At first, I was like, “Doesn’t Metallica play detuned a little bit? How the hell am I going to sing that?” I had sung some of that stuff earlier that day, but in our key,and now I had to drop it half a note, or whatever it is. That scared me to death. How is that going to work out? But once we started, I didn’t even feel that I was singing it differently.. It actually became a little easier, singing like a semitone lower. It’s a matter of feeling the key inside. The same thing with the beats, when they’re going. I never ever count anything. when there’s a solo going, I don’t stand there and count. “Ok, that was three rounds, four rounds. Ok, now I have to start singing again here.” Never. It’s all feel. But, the guys always play the same solos, and if they were improvising half the time, good luck to me, because I would have
nothing to go by. I know those solos by heart. That was one thing funny about listening to the live album. I could picture exactly where I was on stage the whole time, and then I realized certain things as we were mixing it. If Andy is playing a solo, I will usually be closer to him so I hear his solo clearest. That’s what I go by, since I don’t count. But by the end, when the verse starts, I am on the opposite side where I could hear Mike’s rhythm guitar more, or visa versa. Andy is my favorite guitar player of all time, so I am not saying anything bad about him, but he has this tendency, live, when he finishes a fast
lick or whatever – he will hold a long feedback note. Listen and you will hear that. In those places, I had to get away from him. I can’t stand over there by the feedback note because I have nothing to go by. That dawned on me while we were mixing. If they, for some reason, screw up in the middle of the solo. or the amp goes out just for five seconds, I’m screwed completely. I will not know when to come in. I will not know where the other guys are. was it five or six
rounds that they played? I hadn’t been paying attention to how many rounds. Suddenly it changes key and goes into the verse, and I can’t
pick it up there.
You just aim the mike at the crowd and the crowd starts singing.
(laughs) They ALWAYS know. What do you call those… in theaters, you have this little old man sitting in a box, with a book, speaking to the actors. Whatever he is called, the audience, the first row there, they are the best of that. I’ve had to use it. I admit that. Those situations… what the hell are you going to do? Suddenly you’re
two rounds in. The lyrics don’t just sit like that., like “Ok, I’ll pick up from the second line.” No. I pick it up by cue words. I know the first few
words of each verse. The rest is automatic. I don’t even think about what I’m singing. When the cue words are NOT there, I can’t just pick it up. It’s impossible. Then I look down at the audience, at those desperate eyes… it’s rare, but it does happen, and God,do I feel miserable afterwards! I swear, if I didn’t have that white on I would be glowing red like the reindeer’s nose. That is embarrassing. the same thing if someone is out of tune. You will hear that on bootlegs. There could be one guitar not matching. That’s very difficult for a singer. If a guy’s out of tune somewhere and I start hearing him, I follow him with that automatic pitch. I sound off, but I’m dead-on with the guy I can hear. You’re lucky in the studio. You have all the time in the world. With Mercyful Fate, when we played Satan’s Fall live.everybody’s like, “King! You’ve GOT to talk longer before Satan’s Fall! We all need time to tune perfectly.” By the end of that song, everyone’s a little off, each other. They have no time to tune for twelve minutes. That’s a problem when you play live, in a hot
sweaty humid room. The guitar will slowly drift out of tune. It’s got to be dead-on in the beginning and you will not be that far in the end. At the end of it there’s a lot of single-note playing and harmonies.
i have to sign to them. Oh man! That’s the real world of a musician. There are lot of things that no one knows about and can’t see unless you tell them. This is how hard it is.
I recently unearthed a tape that I had a long time ago. It’s an interview that Ole did with you that was done before “Fatal Portrait” was released. You were actually playing guitar in that interview, giving fans a chance to hear riffs that were on the forthcoming album. It was pretty strange hearing you play guitar. Is there a secret part on any album in which you actually play guitar?
Well… (in a nonchalant tone) there’s a few places.
Ha! I knew it! It was strange to hear you play guitar. But it was also strange, sort of comical, to hear you and Ole talk to each other in such a respectful manner, as if you were perfect strangers.
(laughs) The good old days. People didn’t know us yet.
Wow. I’ve just unearthed some trivia! King has actually played guitar on the albums!
Yeah, here and there, bits and pieces. Most has been in scenarios where I had a very crooked finger position that was impossible for
the other person to do. I use some very odd chords sometimes. Sometimes it’s a feel thing. Each player has different techniques. I have a very unique way that dampen the strings when I want these (vocalizes what the guitar sounds like). it has sometimes been very hard to get out. I want them sounding a certain way, fat but still very crisp. It’s not all that easy. I have my style. I play both up and down strokes. A lot of guitarists play only down strokes. It’s different
techniques. There are some things that are awkward for Andy to play, with the up/down strokes, but that’s what it demands or you’re
simply not going to get the right mood out of the riff. There were some places here and there where I’d do that little bridge, or this or that. One thing that was cool about The Puppetmaster is that Andy has never gotten that close to my expression of my songs, the way I
play them on the demos. I have all the demos here where I play all the guitars. There’s a drum machine, and I simulate the bass by playing the guitar through an octave. Some of the keyboards
turn out to be the real ones. There, you can REALLY hear my style of playing. It’s demos, so it’s not that perfect, of course, but the overall feel of everything is exactly there the way I want others to play it. Sometimes I play little pieces (on the album) where there’s certain
kinds of chords, or certain kinds of structures that just doesn’t fit the other player’s technique at all. Maybe one day I should release the
demos where I play everything. (laughs)
I’m very upset with the security you have when you record. Nothing leaks out. It’s very frustrating for a King Diamond fan.
Well maybe one day I will release them.You do hear me play guitar on one of those albums with bonus stuff. For “Them,” I think. I play one of the guitars on the rehearsals because Pete Black wasn’t there at the time. That rehearsal tape, that’s Andy and me playing guitars.
Abigail, to my ears, has the most amount of choir, of all your albums.
I’m not sure you’re right. Not with the backings ,and how many there are, and how layered. It sounds like that. It’s probably the album with the most REVERB on it ever. It does make everything sound more
like we recorded in a church almost.
A Satanic church.
Of course! Are you kidding? (he pauses, and then laughs) Do you know what I am saying? Some of the stuff on “Conspiracy” – there’s so much (choir) on there, and later on too. There’s lots of that stuff. You can go all the way up the albums. There’s tons of layered vocals. But everything is dryer. Even if the guitars are reverbed more than usual, they will create an atmosphere for the vocals, of course. The more swimmy the guitars are, the more swimmy the vocals will sound, even if they don’t have reverb. How you put the whole band in a certain room for the whole duration is something you determine
from the early phase. What kind of room do we want to be in? Then you add more reverb to a certain snare because it has to have a special effect. I’ve gone away from using reverb on my vocals. It’s only used for specific effects. I use delay instead. There’s a delay at all times on my vocals, but you don’t hear it in the music. This is an odd thing, actually, No matter what tempo the song is in, we set the delay at 666 milliseconds. You’re probably thinking I’m lying, but I’m not. That amount of delay time fits ANY of our songs. I don’t like to have that swimming around if there’s a quiet passage, for instance,
where I’m talking, because then it sounds stupid. When I’m playing live, I don’t like a delay hanging on my voice when I’m between songs. “Thank you very much.. thank you very much (he mocks a repeating echo getting fainter with each cycle). That sounds so stupid in between songs. The same thing for taking parts in music. You kill that delay. But for the singing parts, that’s what’s on my vocals all the time. It’s a cool feel for how we produce the albums today. They are a LOT dryer than back then. When you’re a guitarist, and you try to make out what we’re playing on Abigail, on certain passages you will NEVER know what chords we’re using. you simply can’t hear it clear enough duplicate perfectly.
When did you start producing your own albums?
Well, it started with “Don’t Break the Oath” when we decided we had had enough of feeling like going to a dentist when recording an album. That’s what it felt like. That’s the strongest memory I had on “Melissa.” I felt like being at the dentist’s office, being called in. “Mr. Peterson?” Then you walked into the control room and were played a song. “What’s this? Where’s THIS, and where is THAT? Why are the guitars so low? Where is that harmony? This is heavy metal, not the pop you normally do!” Great producer at that time, but he was a pop
producer, actually. That’s what he had done most – Danish pop music. Very good productions. Very skillful guy. We didn’t have any other names of producers. It was probably because of the studio he had. We got a little bit of that taste on the mini LP. I had all of the backing parts ready for that. Those songs were supposed to have the same style of backings as on the “Melissa” album, until I was told “You have two tracks.” You know the story with Hank. He was taking to long. It cost a lot. “I’m sorry, man. This one has got to be IT. Whatever we do now goes on tape and it goes on the album. I don’t care anymore.” Talk about pressure. (laughs) And that’s what happened. So that was the first time we felt these other people in control. And it continued on ‘tile “Don’t Break the Oath.” I had enough. “I’m going to stay here whether you like it or not! When I say turn that keyboard up, I want to hear what it’s like when you move that thing. I want to SEE you move it, not send us out and bring us back in and try to fool us without having moved anything and see if we hear it, because I DO hear it!” So during “Don’t Break the Oath” that’s finally when the band ended up in the control room. So we, of course, got a little bit more experience there. Then when Roberto came in on “Fatal Portrait” and so on, we knew a bit more and were involved the whole way. He had a lot of ideas. He was also a great link between our ideas and how to bring it to tape. That continued for many albums. It was awesome working with him. He and I would sit and play keyboards together. Some of the things on “Conspiracy” and also “On the Eye” was played four-hand, actually. it was him and I. Otherwise we didn’t have enough tracks. (pauses) I forget. Where was I?
About producing your own albums.
(we both laugh) I can’t remember if “Them” was… no, I don’t think “Them” was automated either. There was a part that Andy had forgotten to record. It was a make-or-break riff for “The Accusation Chair” I think. He was already back in Sweden, and I had to go back and get my guitar and record the part. We were losing time, and we were up against other people who stood outside waiting with all their gear, and we were still mixing the last part. Before that, we must have been mixing for twenty hours straight. I
was so dead, sitting on a chair, listening next to Roberto, and suddenly blacked out and fell forward into the mixing desk and onto the floor. Roberto is like “Go take an hour on the couch! This is no help.” Then we finished later. Some tough times.
Did anything strange ever happen in the studio the way strange things have happened in your apartment in Denmark?
I remember that i almost burned the studio down when we did “Them.” I used to have candles to see my lyrics. Just candles. Nothing
else. I found ways to put them where my lyrics stand was, and it was one of those times when I was so tired that i took a break. There must have been some wind going in there, blowing the candles over towards the lyrics. They were burned! They were gone. I came in there. “It smells smokey in here.” There was a big black spot burned into the floor. I fortunately had copies. (pause) But I don’t think there was a demon in there blowing at it, or something like that. The first time we were in the studio that I KNOW things went haywire was with “Conspiracy.” There was this female second engineer that we barely used. She was the one who was freaked out completely. She was screaming, crying, all kinds of shit, because of what was going on there. That is not a rarity. that is more the norm. SOMETHING will happen. Other people get freaked. I think it was on “House of God” when Kol Marshall was working a little overtime. We were mixing, trying to get done, and we both saw a little man in the doorway. But the weird thing was that i had seen that little man at two in the afternoon, and of course, the whole studio is dark. But I had seen
him there. “Am I THAT fuckin’ tired? This is too weird.” About five hours
later, we’re sitting there. Koll was at the mixing desk. it was across the room, to his left, where that doorway was. I would be sitting, usually facing the console, but from his left side. Suddenly, man, he just got pale, and he totally froze. He was looking over in that direction, and without me even turning my head, I said, “You saw him! I know you saw him!” He’s was like, “This is not
REAL! You CAN’T know that!” I said, “The little man over in the doorway? I know you saw him.” He was totally freaking. He usually closed up the studio by himself, but he was begging me to stay for the rest of the night. (laughs. “You don’t have to leave right now, do you?” That’s why there is a mention in the credits for that. (Ed. – “I
swear I saw the Glitcher! King saw him too”)
I had asked you prior to the Mercyful Fate reunion if you would ever re-do a song. You answered that you are always moving forward, working on new material. When you re-did “Return of the Vampire” I was surprised.
That was a unique experience.
Did it ever cross your mind to do a sort of re-visit album and do the songs from the mini LP, and songs like “Shadow Nights” and
“A Dangerous Nightmare?”
Those were all chopped up into other songs, the last two. But the others – I almost said it before, when we talked about the mini LP and how that was recorded, the other vocals were prepared but never done, and I wonder how those songs would have sounded… maybe I will never know. It all comes down to time, and money too. Is it going to be interesting enough to go in and do those songs? What would it look like to other people if Mercyful Fate does another album in a year or two and we put that in there – would the fans think that we are out of ideas? I always worry, maybe too much, about those things. I worry about what people think. In that respect,
I don’t want to appear pathetic.
Well maybe if I keep asking you to do it every time that I interview you.
(laughs) That’s the reason why “Abigail II” was finally done. Inside, I felt there was so much more I could write about this story. Gramma is one of my all-time favorite characters. I would love to be given permission to do another album with her in it. it would be so cool. I know what the cover would look like. It’s a very passionate inside of me. But if we did that, how would it look? Honestly. Conspiracy, Part III , with Gramma? No matter what the story is about, it would still look like Part III to other people. It’s like, “He has to go all the way back there to get inspiration!” I don’t dare do that. It would have to be fan request, like it was with Abigail II. So many people kept asking me to do another thing that reminds of that, and has that complexity.
How many signatures do you require?
What? (laughs). Two! I really want to do it that bad! (laughs) But seriously, it is like that for me. I don’t want anyone to think that I ran out of ideas. But if that were not the case, I would love to go back and give those songs the full treatment.
Maybe you won’t re-do “Burning the Cross” but is it possible for you to write down the lyrics for me to print? Would that be a pain in the as for you?
Yeah. To find them?
You wouldn’t remember them from hearing the song?
I doubt it. I don’t know how clear it is there on the actual album. (pauses) Maybe after the tour.
Keep that on your list. It will be a treat for old-timers like me.
I think I have it somewhere. I was thinking of it that way, that i wouldn’t have to sit and listen. it was very early-days, as you know.
I’ve heard earlier versions of Satan’s Fall with more aggressive lyrics. You moved away from in-your-face evil in favor of the more mysterious.
It gets old very fast. It doesn’t leave too much to the imagination. Do you like splatter movies or more psychological movies? Which one puts you deeper into a certain mood? The first one is like (makes a gore, splat sound) “That looked cool!’ The other one, you feel uncomfortable for a long time. It’s much bigger impact. To misuse
the word “Satan” does not make you heavier. I think it’s so anti-tough to misuse it. I’ll still use it any day. It’s a very good word. It doesn’t
matter which camp you’re in. That word has a uniform meaning to most people. It gives them immediate association, which to me is not the real meaning at all. Even I see some pictures in my head, even though I know it has nothing to do with that. Do you know what i mean by that? It’s like a label. Like picking up a bottle of Johnny Walker. It gives you something that you don’t have to think too long about. Drink it, and you will like the taste or hate the taste. It depends on the kind of person you are.
One of the things that I heard that I thought was rather shocking, having had grown accustomed to the later style of lyrics, is the an earlier version of “Satan’s Fall” in which you sing, “Satan is better than God.”
I will stand up for any lyrics, ever, because there are meanings behind those things. That thing there is very tongue-in-cheek, of course. I should have chosen better words to make it more lyrical. Well, Satan is, in many situations, a better choice than God. There would be less killing. You know that’s true. The Crusades, whatever. Even if you believed in the worst scenario of Satanism, in what I call the completely distorted fake rituals, if that was all true, it would have hurt so much less than the Crusades. When you just said that line, I immediately got the feel from back then, what I felt inside. But the words,I think, “How fuckin’ primitive!” It’ s like “Walking down the stairs to hell” or something like that. How corny.
You seemed more confrontational back then,
You know also why. There was nothing like that back then.
Attacked from all sides.
Venom didn’t really do that. We were simultaneous, but they had a whole different way of talking about these things. With them, I think, it’s like watching the old Hammer horror movies. It looks cool, sounds cool, but maybe it doesn’t mean as much as was said. I think
Cronos has said that himself sometimes, that you need to take things with a grain of salt and lighten up sometimes. I try to do that too. That’s why sometimes you see the band in Christmas outfits and stuff like that. You have to be able to laugh at yourself. You know there’s a lot of humor on the albums too. It might be a little twisted, but it’s there. back then, I can tell you, English was not that easy for me. I had not traveled much at that time. When we the first
U.S. tour for “Don’t Break the Oath, there were lots of times when I did interviews, and I remember clearly how it was not natural for me to just say things. Like, now, I dream in English. But that’s because I’m in the environment. I only talk Danish when I talk business to Ole, or my mom, or my brother. Everything is English around me.
You are immersed.
Absolutely. But back then, if anyone asked me a question, inside my brain there was this translation going. I translated in my head to Danish. I must have seemed so slow back then because I’d come up with my Danish answer and then translate to English. To say anything took me time. That’s why there are those famous… “sarcophagus” was “sarco-fay-gus.” Then Later on it’s like “I have to sing it the wrong way.” I think about it every time we play that song.
I remember you used to introduce “Into the Coven” as “Into the koh-ven.”
Yeah, well that’s a thing that you can say either way.
If you want to hear something funny, I had never used the word “coven” unless I was mentioning your song, and whenever I said it, I said it your way, and people were yelling at me to say it right. You messed me up!
But you know what? People came up to me and said the same thing. No, no, no. you can’t be right. That must be wrong because it doesn’t
sound as tough. There’s a big difference there.
Exactly. Getting back to “Burning the Cross,” but not in an annoying way, for the DVD material that might be provided as a bonus, you said you had video footage of Ben Petterson playing. That’s a treat for all of us who don’t know what he looks like. Did he write “Burning the Cross?”
Yeah, with me. (pause) There should be a good possibility of that early show from ‘82 when Michael Denner is not in the band.
Is this bonus video footage would go to Roadrunner and not to Metal Blade? I know you have stuff coming out on Metal Blade.
Yeah, but there’s a difference between these things. The stuff that Roadrunner is getting is stuff that some collectors had seen – maybe not a lot of the King Diamond stuff that I am intending to give them – the Mercyful Fate, a lot of collectors have seen, but not in this quality. It’s been through digital processing with a company from
Sweden. It’s actually a three-camera shot of us playing a little club in Holland called “The Dynamo” at that time, anyway. For us to give it
out is where I am not living up to my (sarcastictone) perfectionist image. There are some bombers in there that you would not believe. i have one and the band has one, and they’re big. It’s not like I have to tell you where they are. Then of course everyone just plays as if everything is normal. For King Diamond, it’s a show from Gothenburg, Sweden, on the Abigail tour. But I think is two camera angles. That one I haven’t seen yet. Our own stuff for Metal Blade
has never before been seen. we have the only master tapes. There is some killer shit. I freaked when I saw it. There is fifty minutes from a show in Amsterdam at a place called Paradisio (ed. spelling?) which used to be a church. I think that’s from ‘84, if I’m not wrong, before we did “Don’t Break the Oath.” But we did play “Come to the Sabbath.” There are more. There is this big festival in Denmark where we
went on stage at 4:40 in the morning. But people stayed. You can see in the distance when the sun starts coming up. We have quite a bit.
King Diamond stuff too. There was a park in Copenhagen, a gig that we did in the middle of recording “The Eye.’ We tore our gear down and then played this one show and then put it back up and continued recording. Unusual.
That would put to rest the rumor that Snowy programmed a drum machine instead of playing electronic drums.
There you go. electronic drum pads are definitely not the same as playing a drum kit, you know – an experiment that wasn’t bad but it was not what it could have been.
I’ve seen clips, after the reunion, at the Dynamo festival.
Yeah, that would have been the big open air one. MTV was there.
Interview with Christof Niederwieser by Bill Zebub for issue #30 of THE GRIMOIRE OF EXALTED DEEDS MAGAZINE
I was very traurig when I discovered that Korova was no longer a band. I googled the word “Korova” and Redstream Records had a band called Korovakill. The song titles had compound nouns that Deutsch-speaking leute are fond of, so I wondered if Korovakill was a new incarnation of Korova. I Emailed Redstream to find out, and when I received the antwort, I could not believe my augen! Thou art not dead. Was the change of name a strategy to get out of a gay contract?
Guten Tag! We changed into KorovaKill to make it more a rhyme on Bill. We thought that would be a nice thrill .
The music was just as delicious as I remembered, and I loved the album so much that I almost was sent to das krankenhaus. Is such strange music the work of a band, or a project?
Thank you very much for the Roses! I think it’s not so important if you call KorovaKill a band or a Project. Until the end of 1999 we have been what is called a band. We had rehearsals twice a week, we had fixed line-ups with fixed members, but in the end, all the songwriting and the whole organizational work was just done by
myself. Since 2000 we are what many people would call a project. We don’t have rehearsals at all. We just meet before recordings. The
members are also involved in many other bands. Moritz has played on albums of a dozen different bands within the last tears – Atrocity,
Graveworm, Abigor, Dornenreich, Darkwell, Siegfried – just to name a few, and Renaud puts his major focus on Elend. But when we record an album together the interaction between us is much stronger and intense than in our early days. Although I am still doing the whole songwriting, Renaud and Moritz contribute very much to the arrangements and to the final shape of the songs. Concerning this point, we are much more a band now than six Years ago. So if you like you can call us a “banject”.
Thy lyrics are a close to the poems of schizophrenics. I know, because I published a newsletter that was written by schizophrenics. Inside the words that seem like broken concepts are true meanings. If I may, I would like to decipher the meaning of “Into the Underwhirls.” Was that song about the brutal practice of fisherman who use huge nets? Each year, they catch dozens of mermaids, and while the ugly ones are thrown overboard after a few blowjobs, the pretty ones are kept on the ship, away from their natural environment. Dost thou think that thy message could reach more sympathetic ears if the lyrics were more straightforward?
I like your interpretation, but one question remains unanswered: “Where do Mermaids have their Vulva? Our Lyrics always have been
symbolic, for they shall take a glance into the hidden, into the realms of Untime, into the world behind the world, the eternal shining beneath the shallow surface of the visible. It’s a realm where the ordinary logic of language has no value anymore. You just can try to catch a little shadow of this world by painting pictures with words and sounds. Schizophrenics and drug people mostly get a distorted picture of this world. Artists and visionaries try to get a clear picture of this shining empire. But in the end, each of them must fail, because as soon as you try to make the invisible visible, you destroy it. Whatever you see loses its unseenness. Who knows will understand! And we just bear our children for those who understand. It’s not our aim to reach a high quantity of ears, but a high quality. We don’t make music for the masses. We make music for individuals!
Thou art now in Berlin, which I think is dangerous for an Austrian. Germans hate the Austrian accent, but Berliners hate the soft accents of the surrounding Deutschbags. A Berliner would say “Ik bin attraktiv” but the softer people say “Ish bin Berlina.” How dost thou find refuge among people who are so kalt?
This question reminds me of the last Bephegor concert here in Berlin, when Hellmuth shocked the audience by doing his a announcements in Austrian accent. After the show he enjoyed teasing girls by telling them in dialect, that they had a nice ass. It was a very funny evening. Yes, there are some strong stereotypes between the crude megalomania-maschine-Prussian and the naive farmer-operetta-Austrian. Germans don’t take Austrians serious, intellectually and Austrians don’t take Germans
serious concerning creativity and humaneness. They are streamline-pseudocreative half-robots for us. But fortunately these are just stereotypes and there are enough nice German people, who don’t fit into it – about the rest, I don’t care. And actually most Berlin people aren’t kalt anyway – they are “warm”…it’s the European capital of gays. Concerning the accent, it’s a bit more complex, because there are over hundred very different accents just in Tyrol, the little part
of Austria where I come from. And my accent is very hard – people often think I am from Russia or Poland. My accent is a crushing Kruppstahl- Fist compared to the soft Piefke-Slang.
I have a beautiful Deutsch frau who writes for me now. Her name is Katja and I would love to inhale her auspuff. She is a fan of Angizia and I was wondering if thou couldst arrange an interview. Apparently that is another band that is no longer on Napalm Records. What has happened to that record label?
Oh, I also would like to inhale Deutschfrau-Auspuff! Does Katja have a beautiful sister here in Berlin? Maybe “Panzerdivision Brundhilde” or “Schlachtross Irmgard”? They are cordially invited. I am sure Michael will answer her questions about Angizia They have just released their new album some weeks ago – a great work once again! Napalm Records have supported the Austrian underground very much for many Years. Maybe bands like Angizia, Korova, or even Abigor would never have gotten a chance to release albums without them. I think this is what counts. We had some legal arguments
in the past with them, but everything has been clarified in the meantime. There’s no bad blood between us. (UPDATE: I arranged an interview betwwen Katja and Christof – and the now have a child because of me. I am cupid.)
I would have thought that thy band would be on Holy Records because of the experimental nature of the music. Have they offered a contract, or is the old hatred of the French preventing such union?
Well, we have been in contact with Holy Records in 1997, when no record company dared to release our second, yet unreleased, the album “Echowelt”. Phil told me on the phone: “Sorry, you Guys are too much! You are much too much!” I haven’t heard many Holy-releases
since that, but as far as I know they are doing a good, reliable Work. At the moment there’s no use to think about that anyway, for we are very satisfied with our current Label Red Stream.
Is it nutzlich to have mind-altering substances while composing thy music? There is an argument in science about such things. One side is saying that enhanced creativity is just an illusion.
I don’t think that substances can make a philosopher out of a monkey. But I know that the Monkey may think different about that…
Is it silly to call a police siren a siren? It may be true that the police siren calls men to their doom, but the police siren has no lure. I would think that it is better to call it a banshee. What dost thou think? Is this matter serious enough to write a symbolic song?
I think there are more serious problems in the world. Why do so little people have to laugh when they read the name “Dick Cheney?” Do his friends call him “Penis”? And why is “Dick” the German Word for “Fat”?
Let us just say that In Germany, it is not an a compliment if a girl tells thee that thy dick is not gross. American women think that my dick is gross, but Geman women would not say that es ist gross. In any case, I have only recently realized that thou hast a member of Elend in thy midst. I have been trying, for months, to arrange for some Elend songs to be used in my first avant-garde movie, but the Lecons album is a source of shame, not pride, to the composer. It baffles me completely. Newer Elend still has the heavenly soprano, but gone are the tortured screams. It has made me verruckt. Canst thou relay the message that it is grausam to make such a legendary album as Lecons and then to shut away the secrets forever. A legion of fans await the wieder-kommen!
Elend just had rather limited resources for the production of their first two albums. It’s the sound quality that is not satisfying for them anymore, not the music or the concept. I like their scream-albums very much, but also the new works are great, I think. It’s more than ten years ago now that they’ve started screams and violins, and I totally understand that they don’t want to repeat themselves for ages.
In America, women have been cultivated to prefer large sizes of things on men. In Germany, do women judge thee on the size of thy schnurbart?
Yes, also in Germany you can increase your shooting quota by wearing a beautiful Osamabeard.
In America, people sometimes fart when they drive. What does thou do when thou does fahrt?
I am very curious about that unreleased album. I want to hear it! Is there a chance that Redstream will release it? Will they also pay for your nebenkosten?
The Echowelt-songs always have been our killers at concerts. It’s total mania! It’s total outbreak and destructurement – a post nuclear
deconstruction of all that once was called music about a place that once was called world! Unfortunately just an ugly-produced demo with four songs has been recorded back in 1997. Some songs are nearly ten years old now, but they sound fresher and weirder than ever! We definitely would like to go to the studio somewhen and record this album with good production, since it is our core-work. But it’s not realistic that this will happen in the nearer future. There is just too little interest in KorovaKill. If more people would buy our albums it would be much easier for us to do productions.
Has a man ever given thee a hummer, or dost thou only allow women to do so?
I just allow blue-haired girls to give me a Hummer Simpson.
Is it not ironic that Freud came up with the pleasure principle? (Freude)
No, that’s just what Jung called “the Synchronicity between Name and Named”.
With friends like Freud, who needs animas? Some extreme bands like to schimpfen on their albums, but thou hast stayed away. is it because thou dost not need to do such things to create curiosity?
We don’t have to nag on our albums – lots of other people are doing that work for us.
I hate when bands advertise heavenly operatic vocals on their albums when their vocalists are not trained. When Elend had the contrast of the genuine operatic vocals with the tormented male vocals, it was very powerful. But I can only listen to a few songs on the newer albums because I do not like the Barry-Manilow-style of singing. It is gegenuber of the first example – the untrained make vocals are only interesting when they are tormented. what thinkst thou?
Oh, Barry Manilow – that’s a big compliment! I am sure Renaud will be happy to hear it! He is singing in that way, because untrained listeners are only interesting when they are tormented. Personally I like his voice on the new albums very much. There was no intention to sound operatic at all, so there’s also no use for comparisons with
Pavarotti or Caruso.
As unusual as thy melodies become, they have never been very dunkel. Will that change on thy next album. Wilst thou venture into this territory and stay away from hell?
In the black of the void waits the gold of the All. So our melodies are a step further to the dark. They show you what comes out when you
were sitting in the darkest place of the world for twenty years, without any sound, without any movement, without any sentiment. And then, after twenty years, suddenly the Darkness dissolves and the hidden Light comes out.
Some heroic themes live in thy songs. It is sort of an archetypal hero who has great strength but also great weakness. Elric is a sort of diabetic, is he not, in Moorcock’s Elric saga? Let us stay away from asking why a man would not change his last name if it is “more cock” – let us dwell on this serious topic only. In thy hero themes, art thou really trying to make people think seriously about unterhund? He needed to take a pill from his ring in order to derive great power.
Hmmm, that’s really interesting. So far I haven’t been aware of the hero, Underdog theme in our lyrics. But you’re right, it’s in there
pretty often. Maybe it’s because we have been beaten like a dog by the metal scene since fourteen years now. I think it’s time to beat back! Our next concept will be about terrorists flying with aeroplanes into the Milwaukee-Festival.
Hast thou ever cancelled a gig because someone gave thee a shnoopfen?
What is a “schnoopfen”? This Word does not
It is a kalt, sort of like a flu. It flew over thy head. Thy lyrics make me denken a lot. Why is the swastika forbidden in thy land? After all, the KKK costume is permitted here, as well as the swastika. Is it more a symbol of defeat to thy country? I have also noticed that the Hitler mustache is no longer in style. Oliver Hardy from Laurel and Hardy, as well as Chaplin, were fond of that mustache style. I am sad to see it go.
Please understand that I don’t want to answer
In America, the Nazi movement is very popular. We even have a candy here that alters brainwaves. It is called Racist Peanut Butter Cups, but a more obvious candy product is Rece’s Pieces. They are the color of the German flag, and I have to admit that the peanutty goodness gives me a spell of good old-fashioned jew-hating, unless I eat the candy as part of a balanced nutritious frushtuk. Is that the secret plan of Hitler, a final dying stroke of genius to overturn the minds of Americanss with the simple use of candy?
I don’t want to answer the Nazi questions. It may be misunderstood by too many Europeans if I would take part in such kinds of jokes.
Thou art reluctant to make humorous comments about Nazi antics, but Ko n n i g e n Katja, my Deutsche schwester, sees no reason to be afraid. As a musicican, thou art an artist because thou art not afraid to offend traditional composers with thy explorations, but why is there so much concern about what a humorless person will think about thy reply? Surely thou art practiced in the experimentation – researchers tend to compensate for participants who have have the response-style of giving socially-pleasing answers.
No, it’s just too billig for me to take part in Nazi-jokes. You don’t need any brain cells to gain attention with that kind of stuff. So I prefer to leave that to others. The second reason is, that talking about Nazis, no matter if in a positive ora negative way, gives them power, makes them important. But I don’t think that they deserve
such an attention.
Dost thou denken that when a subject, like Nazi history, is avoided, it is actually preventing the “realization of the Shadow?” Jung, thy deutcshe bruder, warned that to deny the Shadow in thyself is to be doomed, for the shadow will manifest in other, dangerous ways. Is it not besser to be in control?
You have to confront with the Shadow, throw his masks away and look deeply into the jerking smallness behind. But there’s no use to
drag it on your shoulders just for fun after it has been de-shadowed.
Because then the Lightbringer would turn into the Coprophagous.
Dost thou believe that aus-of-Korper experiences are real phenomena, or are they purely mental?
Since it’s your mental energy, astral body, soul, or however you’d like to call it, that is leaving your body, of course it is purely mental, spiritual, immaterial, or whatever term you’d like to use. But anyway, it’s still a “real” phenomena. But what is reality?
If thou wert to fly in a dream, is there really a difference between that and if thou were to fly in waking reality? After the flight, all that we have is the memory of the experience.
There isn’t any difference. Life or dream, it’s all the same. There’s no possibility to differ one from the other.
Dost thou glauben that ethics really exists in science, or is that just an Amerikanization of science which transforms research into a business – a business that must be protected? Universities that conduct research have much to lose if a participant were to sue. Few people realize this, but even if a participant signs a consent form to participate in research, a lawsuit can still be filed. Experiments in which participants are deceived are considered “unethical” by the review board which has the power to deny the research, but I think a better word is “liability” – the university fears lawsuits that the “traumatized” participants may file. Now it is thy turn to sprechen.
Just unethic people need ethics. Ethic people don’t need to talk or even think about ethics. It’s like intolerant people always have to use
the word “tolerance”. The have to preach tolerance to fight the intolerance within themselves in the outside. Of course you need some basic standards about what can be allowed in science, e.g. when you think about genetics or testing out new medicines on people. But if there are so many standards that even deceiving
people in psychological experiments is forbidden, it leads to a very boring science, where nothing new is going to happen anymore. Anyway, I think, that there is nothing like an evolving collective of scientists. The big steps in science are done by a few big Individuals.
And the whole huge mass of university-scientists are just the cattle that gathers around. These are the business pseudo-scientists. And
this cattle needs rules. But everybody candecide himself to which side he wants to belong, to the side of money and reputation or
to the side of wisdom.
Dost thou wish for the world to return to the glorious days of World War Zwei, when there were no restrictions imposed on human experiments?
Well, actually there have been more restrictions on science and art than ever during Teutsches Reich. Physicians who believed in relativity theory, “depraved” artists, astrologers, everybody who was experimenting beyond the norm had to flee or was sent to concentration camp. And the medical results of the human
experiments were pretty poor. Those days have been as glorious as the Bush-era in USA – if you really want to believe in cheap propaganda.
Thy homeland is a modern Atlantis, is it not? Thou art from Austria.” Aus” means “out of” so thy people must be out of a land called “Tria.” What was “Tria” like before thy people were exiled?
In the ancient days of Atlantis, Tria has been the legendary continent in the hollow core of the Earth. Nobody knew if it really ever existed. But some old Atlantean writers have named this mystic continent in their books, so many Atlanteans believed in it. It was told, that the
Tria-people have been technically advanced very much, but then they incensed the gods and hence received big punishment. The whole core of the Earth was filled with glowing lava. Their whole cities have been destroyed. But the most intelligent Triaseans escaped from this Inferno and settled down in the Alps. There they live in immense wisdom, beauty and matureness until today! But also a group of mentally deranged Triaseans managed to escape. They copulated with apes and formed a new race called Humans. Soon they spread like parasites all over the globe. But the Austrians
were very wise. They camouflaged as harmless idiots and hid all their richness. So the humans don’t bother them.
Scientific method demands that something must be observable. This may be useful in determining how much water must I drink in order for all gelb to disappear from my urine, but that means that many interesting things fall outside of this approach. I consider psychologists who are behaviorists to be too dull and stupid to understand something as abstract as psychoanalysis. Thou art more of a reader of Jung, but thou must surely hate behaviorists more than I, for they regard Jung as a mystic.
I don’t hate behaviorists, because this would mean that they had kind of power over me. I think they are very funny, especially when
they take themselves so serious. And they may think a b o u t me, Jung, Satanas, sexy boy Shawn Michaels, or anybody else whatever they like.
If a person who is blind since birth dreams of colors and objects that were never seen, what dost thou infer?
You don’t need to be blind to see or dream colors and objects, that never have been seen by other eyes. It happens every day and every second, because you never can see something twice in exactly the same way. You never can put your feet twice into the same river, like
Doest thou love that geld is gelb?
Well, but geld isn’t gelb at all as long as everybody has washed his fingers before paying.
In thy land, are Amerikans famous for being Stumfsinning?
Yes, many stumpfsinnig people in my land think so.
Foreigners learn English from Oxford style, which is the gay style from England. They are also taught the British gay pronunciation. I have often wondered if the accents of foreigners would change if they were taught the pronunciation of the region they would inhabit. The English do not pronounce the “r” very much if it is in the middle of the word, but Americans pronounce it, and in the hard way, not the soft British way. I think this would improve race relations in America. But the real question I have is, if I visited thee, would I get beaten up because I sound like a a fag? I know high German, the Berliner style of proper German, but no one there speaks that way, right? is the verb always in the second place? Does anyone say words like Arbanduhr? Wie spat ist es?
Language in northern Germany is like a machine-code. Of course there are also regional dialects, but everybody can understand and
talk the machine-code if it is necessary. Southern Germans and Austrians also have their own regional accents, but mostly they cannot talk the machine-code, because they don’t want to be machines. But I guess a guy like you would be beaten up anyway if you’d come to Germany or anywhere else. I like the sound of
Oxford English, at least it sounds more noble to me than the American chewing-gum slang. But personally I prefer to talk English with Italian accent. I started that when I lived one year in Italy and I am still doing so.
Did thou hate learning English? French is even more annoying to learn. It feels like I am learning slang because of all the apostrophe action. Of course the language is so shitty that the French would want to shorten it as much as t h e y could. A F r e n c h sentence could have t w o b i l lion letters i n it but to read it would only sound like “blaaaaaah!” The world should learn the beauty of the Czech language. Each letter is so precious to the word that everything is always pronounced. Not a single drop is ever wasted. To speak Czech is to be drunk on words. Or dost thou not agree because of the hatred passed down from thy forefathers? Dost thou hate Slavs?
Well sorry, Bill, but the Czechs are our brothers! They’ve been an important part of the Austrian World-Reich Monarchy for hundreds of Years! It’s a cool country with cool people and I am sure, that within the next twenty years Czechs will be first world and Germany will be second world. Then Czech men will come across the border and fuck German women cheaply and make cheap holidays in Germany. That will be justice. I liked to learn English, but I love
French, though I cannot talk it, and I love French women! They have the right mixture between grace and emotion, between dignity and warm, rich feelings.
I demand that history should be taught to students from as many versions as there are available. Read the words of the winners as well as the losers. In America, there is much propaganda about the atrocities of the Axis, but there is no mention of the atrocities that the Americans committed. Canst thou reveal at least one thing? Surely the intentional starving of Germans after the surrender was not an action that was lovingly remembered. I do not ask this to stir hate, but rather, to lift it. I want people to stop thinking in black and white. Hating a German because he was a soldier is like hating a black person because he is a nigger.
After the second World War Americans have been very popular
in Germany. They were friendly and brought food and freedom. So I don’t know exactly about what you are talking. Concerning atrocities, I would rather talk about the present,
about the indirect genocide that Americans will be guilty of in some years, because they deny to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, or about
the “structural Violence” of Market-Fascism, that they are forcing upon the whole world. Anyway I don’t want to raise anti-american stereotypes, since I know so many cool people in US who definitely
won’t deserve to be insulted just because they have some stupid
When China finally starts attacking, which country gets destroyed first?
I guess China.
UPDATE: Christof released a new album under the name CHRYST.
interview with Christofer Johnsson conducted by Bill Zebub for issue #31 of THE GRIMOIRE OF EXALTED DEEDS magazine
You may not remember this, but many years ago I interviewed you for the first issue of this magazine. Back then it was just a fanzine that was photocopied and stapled in the corner. I will again ask you the very first question that I have ever asked you to see if your answer is different, and then we’ll get on to the serious interview. Are you ready?
If there were a warmth emanating from thy buttocks, what would it be?
Yes! That was the same answer, so now I know that you are an honest person. In the early days there were some cover songs that appeared on albums, like the Judas Priest cover. When I saw your show at BB King’s, one of the encores were Mercyful Fate’s “Black Funeral.” Did you ever record “Black Funeral” in the studio?
We never recorded it.
There was an Orff cover on one of the albums. I was wondering if you were ever tempted to do something in the same vein from Strauss, like “Biem Shlafengehen” or the Commendatore finale song from “Don Giavanni.”
Anybody can do classical covers, but the most interesting thing is to break new ground.
In America there are television commercials for a breakfast cereal simply called “Shredded Wheat.” On one side there’s frosting and on the other side there isn’t. The commercials show that people are divided. Some people like the sugary side and others like the unfrosted side. Same thing with beer. Half of the country supposedly likes it because it tastes great. The other half likes it because it’s less filling. Those people probably like the unfrosted side, but I doubt that people carve their breakfast bits in half. In Therion, I personally prefer the opera over the prog side.
That’s very gay. I caught you.
(In total shock) That’s so funny. You insulted me before I insulted you!
Well I’m gay too. We can go to Denmark and get married. It’s legal there. (pause) But it’s interesting that people in metal actually prefer that side. We make the classical and the opera more accessible because they don’t really have, for lack of better words, the capacity to go deep into all of this musical information that some opera contains. If you listen to a metal album, or rock, or pop, or whatever – there’s a couple of riffs in each song – and it doesn’t really contain much musical information. You can pretty much judge the album by one listening if it’s a regular rock album. If it’s a metal album than you can judge by a few listenings. But even a very short song in opera contains so much more musical data than, let’s say, five or six metal albums. A lot of people don’t really have the energy, or whatever, to actually take the time it requires to penetrate the surface and go deep into this sort of music. So what we do is actually a shortcut that, because we have the rock structure with classical content as well. It’s a shortcut to opera and classical, which is very convenient for people. Maybe they could like a few highlights. They might buy a CD with Ride of the Valkyrie or some highlight part from an Italian opera, but they wouldn’t sit and listen to opera for a few hours. I think that we’re filling a function for people who could be potentially really interested. So we can start stuff with this, and if they get really enthusiastic they could find a way to more sophisticated music.
You are the gateway to opera.
A few people might take the next step.
There was a very irritating record label publicist who said that every band that has female operatic vocals or orchestral instruments is influenced by Celtic Frost because they were the ones who apparently tried that first.
I don’t really think that bands these days pay homage to such distant albums. You shouldn’t underestimate what Celtic Frost did. Into the Pandemonium – you have The Gathering, Therion, Tiamat, Paradise lost – all with Celtic Frost influence. We, in our turn, influenced other bands. So we can say that they (Celtic Frost) are indirectly influencing this whole wave. But on the other hand, what did they get their influences from? Everything comes from somewhere.
Have you heard Elend?
Yeah. A very long time ago somebody made me a cassette. They’re French, aren’t they?
French. Austrian. One of the members of Korovakill is in it. If you heard the right album, it’s a blue album (the re-release with bonus tracks is red). Instead of bringing operatic vocals and orchestral instruments into metal, they brought death metal vocals into opera. But these days they don’t have the death metal vocals anymore.
That’s a brilliant idea. But that’s precisely what I didn’t like about it. (The death metal vocals).
When I listen to opera, I prefer the very dark opera. It’s vary sad. I was always hoping that there would be that sort of opera presence in Therion, and I was wondering if there is any way for that to happen. I know that you are a live band and you like to create a certain mood for that. But could there be a song or two, not meant for live performance, that delves into the realms of sorrow?
There might be. But the thing is, the way that we write songs is very spontaneous. I’m hopelessly trapped with whatever I write. If someone said to me, “I’ll give you five million bucks if you write a ballad. You have a weekend. Here’s a guitar.” I would write ballad, but it would be the most miserable piece of shit ballad you will ever hear in your life. That’s how it works. I cannot shit on command. I write what I write. It’s what I’m stuck with and what everyone else gets.
If there is a way for me to send you some music, hopefully on some level it will influence you.
Actually there is a lot of sad opera that I like. (editor’s note – We discussed opera, which to you would seem like an inside conversation. Rather than make you feel like an outsider, I edited this part out. I now bring you to the last part of that hidden conversation. Christof went on and on to praise a particular soprano opera singer). She is the best singer in the history of recorded music.
Well, by that reasoning, if she can turn shit into gold, and if you force yourself to write a sad opera song and it will be shit, then she should sing on it so that she turns your shit into gold.
(laughs) By the way, have you seen this movie “Holy Mountain?” That describes the modern culture so well. You know the scene – it’s like everybody gets color on their butts and then they put it on paper – it’s mass-produced art.
It’s so strange that you, being the kind of artist that you are, watched a movie by that kind of director.
Naked Lunch would be one of my favorite movies. Brasil too. Along with that I also like Nightmare Before Christmas.
A long time ago I did try to contact you to hopefully be able to send you some music, but the only Email address on the website is for the webmaster. There is some sort of explanation about that along the lines of, if any band member’s Email were to be known, you would get overwhelmed.
That’s true. But it’s usually not a problem for people from the press to get it. ( editor’s update – After this interview, I asked the lazy twat at Nuclear Blast for the Email, and all I received were excuses for her not doing her job. Eventually, the incompetence resulted in my severing ties from the American office of laziness) If I gave my Email out then I would have to get a new one every month. I got so many Emails every day.
Were the Emails about penis enlargement?
I wish it was. It’s more about boring questions like, “When will you come to my town?”
In Sweden is penis size very important?
No. They’re all American companies who Email me.
I had heard that Sweden has even more concern about penis size and that it has spread to veterinary science as well, with penis enlargement programs for dogs and cats.
I did notice that there’s a tremendous difference between the audience at a Therion show and a crowd that sees any other band, and that difference was the extreme level of respect. It was also your respect toward the fans. I was told that you did not want the usual barricade between the fans and the stage. And the end of the performance was the metal equivalent to a standing ovation. Is that a common reaction throughout the world?
Yeah. We’re very spoiled. But I think that is related to people having bought the records and they had been waiting ever since. They never thought that we would come. For a lot of people it was more than just a concert. It’s something more special. The same thing happens in Europe when we play countries we never had before. Same thing with Latin America. We get an explosive reaction. In many countries they have a really tough life, so when people go to a show they switch off their daily problems for a while. It’s almost like a religion.
Your main opera singer – what is her name? I hope you don’t take this the wrong way, but the way she puts on make-up is sort of the mistake that a little girl makes when she puts on make-up for the first time in her life. Is that the look that she was going for?
She’s the only one who’s a trained opera singer so I told her to make something very theatrical.
Oh, so that’s why she walks on stage like she’s a Gestapo officer patrolling the concentration camp.
That is what is turning you on. (laughs) She has nothing to do with metal. She doesn’t listen to metal. She’s just doing her thing to our stuff.
There’s a blonde to the far right, if you have the same set-up every night – I was wondering if you could have her in the front instead.
Well, that’s an idea.
She’s Swedish, right?
She’s Finnish but she lives in Sweden. We’re going to sell tickets on the next tour to the back stage.
Can you let her know that I love her?
Yes, I will do that.
Some people say that Sweden is very conservative and some people say that it is very liberal.
Conservative? Are you fucking kidding? Our conservatives would be condemned as being too liberal. Ralph Nader would call our conservatives liberals.
I learned that when I ask someone about a country, it’s almost like asking someone in America what America is like. It’s not a true representation.
If you ask a communist, of course he will say that we are conservative. But if ask someone who is somehow in the middle, politically, it is hilarious. We had a social democrat ruling this country in the second world war. It’s like a one party state. But you have a one-party state too. You just have two names for it.
Actually, we are owned by Israel. (Editor’s note – for the new readers of this magazine, there is a lot of sarcasm and baiting. I, in real life, know absolutely nothing about politics, and I don’t care. I just use it to evoke.)
We were speaking of parties. Maybe they own the party. That’s maybe your opinion.
No. I don’t know enough about politics to talk about it seriously.
You don’t need to know much. Just know the fact that your choice is like buying Coca Cola or Pepsi. The difference between democrats and republicans is that republicans piss in your face and they say. “Hey, we pissed in your face. We’re happy about that.” Democrats will piss in your face and if you ask them about they’ll say, “No, we never pissed in your face.”
You mentioned Cocoa Cola before. I have not verified this, but I have heard that in France they have passed a law which protects their language. On television they cannot use non-French words, especially slang, and the term “Cocoa Cola” is one of the no-no words. In direct opposite thinking, America, because it is so sales-driven, has allowed the most niggery language to be on TV. People leave out verbs. It’s almost like hearing Tarzan talk. Poor grammar, nigger-slang, and simplified language.
The American version of English is now completely destroyed. We learn Oxford English in school.
Is Sweden protecting its language?
Protect the Swedish language? Are you kidding? That would be racist!
Yes, Snowy Shaw and I had a conversation about how the Swedes are pussies.
Yeah, I read that. Those things you cannot say in Sweden. I showed that interview to a band and they thought that Snowy is joking. If you do that interview in a Swedish magazine then your career is over.
In America it’s very trendy to think of the French as pussies, but I look at them as heroes. The French deserve respect for standing up for their culture.
I’m very conservative when it comes to things like culture. A lot of things are better these days, but I don’t understand why you have to ruin everything from the past. A lot of liberal ideas are very good, like equal rights for women. And in interracial marriage, it’s up to people what they want to do with their lives and if they want to have those kinds of kids. But there comes a point when you fulfill the rights of minorities and start to go in the other way.
We’re in the other end of the swing.
In Sweden we completely crossed that line a long long time ago, and maybe that’s the reason why we went from being #1 to… (editor’s note – I laugh so loudly that I cannot hear the rest of that sentence)
I’m sorry, you made me laugh.
What else can you do about it?
“Lucid Dreaming” was an album that I had to buy because it was at that time that I found out that what I had experienced actually had a term, and that other people had similar dreams. Many years later a girl I know interviewed you and she said that you had out of body experiences. Is that true?
What came first with you, the lucid dreaming or the out of body experiences?
The astral projection came first
Was this something that you learned or something that happened accidentally when you were falling asleep?
It happened accidentally. It has happened to many people who have had their first out of body experiences that they are in their room outside of their bodies. Actually, I didn’t even look at my body. I was looking through the window, and was drawn outside, out over the woods. And I had a very strange feeling that I can’t really explain these colors.
You are able to induce these now.
Did you learn that on your own?
I’ve been a member of the Order of the Dragon for some years now. They collect ideas and develop techniques.
When I found out that my lucid dreams had a name, I discovered a scientist, Stephen LaBerge, and he had developed techniques, and one night I actually had three lucid dreams in a row. It was crazy. But prior to having had experienced lucid dreams, I had thought that out of body experiences were a hoax.
Very easy to think that if you are a rational person and if you never had that.
Right, but there are parallels between lucid dreams and out of body experiences. In fact, lucid dreams are the perfect launch pad to out of body experiences.
That’s actually how I most often do it. I usually find a gate, like a mirror or window, and I project through that.
Lucid dreaming, to me, is a purely mental phenomenon because although I am aware that I am dreaming within the dream and I control everything around me, it is still a dream. Do you think that an out of body an actual phenomenon in which your awareness somehow extends beyond your body, or is it a mental state?
When I thought about the matter, whether it is internal or external, it doesn’t really make a difference. So I haven’t really made up my mind because the experience remains the same.
In Sweden, do you have the Christmas carol “Tis the Season to Be Jolly?”
Yeah, we do. But our main songs are about the yule, which has nothing to do with Christianity.
In the song I asked about, being that you are a musician, I was oping that you could help educate Americans. They are probably the most ignorant people in the world, judging from the interviews I have done with people all over the world. Stupidity is our #1 export.
Your big companies don’t want people to think. They want people to work for minimum wage and to pay taxes and to consume a lot. Here, we pay 33% in taxes but hospitals are free. If you are unemployed you get money that you can actually live on, and so on and so on.
Americans are not interested in the rest of the world, and for those that are interested, they look at the worlds thinking it’s the same as it is here (editor’s note – I meant that Americans generally cannot accept that other people think in different ways and that other cultures have different attitudes).
It’s really bad that your education system is that way because that makes people that much more unable to have opinions about international affairs. There are a lot of similarities with the Roman empire. You can see a lot of degeneration in empires that are falling, but it won’t be a few centuries. Here we are talking about only a few decades, maximum. You import a lot more than you export. And there’s a lot of loans. You consider yourself the richest country on the planet, which is correct on paper, but if all the international investment would be withdrawn from the United States…
Interesting. But if you look at America’s capital city, it looks like a third world country. Washington D.C. But getting back to the “Tis the Season to be Jolly” – the end of that song is “fa la la la la la la la la.” I would like you to tell me the notes of the major scale of C.
I am happily uneducated musician.
Really? It’s C -D -E- F- G- A -B -C.
I’m very thickheaded to learn things unless I am interested. If I am interested I learn very quickly. Notes and stuff like this is like learning Latin.
I will still ask you the question. The scale that I just told you, in other countries is DO- RE- MI- FA- SO- LA- T-I DO.
Your B is called H in Germany.
Getting back to DO RE MI, when you sing the fa la la la la, it should actually be the notes F and A. But they’re not sung as F and A, and I would like to know if this is some sort of conspiracy.
But you can write a song any way you like.
Certain things should not be intentionally misinterpreted. You Wouldn’t have a guitar that is shaped like a swastika, right?
Not on stage, but it would be fun to own one. I‘d like one like a banana, and one with a hammer and a sickle.
But you know what I mean. The swastika is a cool symbol and it meant something else prior to world war two, and now if you see it you cannot remove the associations that define it.
If you were playing India it would be very popular.
It’s really not easy to interview you.
Well, you do not have an easy magazine.
But anyway, if I were to use FA and LA as lyrics, I would make sure that they were sung in the right pitch!
But music doesn’t need to follow rules.
The Alphabet Song must also obey this rule. When you sing A B C D E F G A B, do it in the right pitch. And what happened to that word “god” being in the pledge of allegiance? America is a theocracy! Do you, as a Swede, see America as being too religious?
Yes. In Sweden only 2% of the population consider themselves Christian.
You have heard of moslims (editor’s note – that is the correct speling of the word)who blow themselves up believing that they will be rewarded with virgins. Well first of all, if you’re in the afterlife, you can’t do anything with corporeal things. And even if you could, why would you have sex with virgins. They are not good in bed.
It’s not just a moslim concept. Christians thought they would get rewarded if they died in the Crusade
If you play in Israel, would you go on stage with a backpack that has a lit fuse on the bottom?
That would be a pretty cool effect, but it wouldn’t be worth it.
Getting back to the moslim thing. I don’t think it’s really a good reward to be given virgins. Virgins are terrible lovers.
It’s much better to be a rock star (instead of a suicide bomber) because it’s very easy. You don’t have to blow up yourself. Just learn how to play guitar. But define “terrorism.” According to the term, the United States is a terrorist state. You bombed Iraq while there was no war declaration. If you don’t declare war and bomb the country, you’re a terrorist.
It’s hard to categorize this album because it has familiar elements yet it does not belong to any group in particular. The vocals can be death metal, the lower register of black metal, clean, and also may fit pagan metal, if you pardon that term. The foreign tongue adds to the feeling of the music.
Throughout the album there is a sense of something being not quite right. This uneasy feeling is further coaxed by odd instrumentation and atmospherics. The tempo is mostly mid-paced, so expect neither brutality nor doom, but be thankful that the black metal cliches are absent.
Interview with King Diamond conducted by Bill Zebub for Issue #16 of THE GRIMOIRE OF EXALTED DEEDS MAGAZINE.
EDITOR’S INTRODUCTION: I had run a contest for readers to make their version of the cover of the NUNS HAVE NO FUN EP, using photographs. It was meant for humans to imitate the drawing on the album, but the winner actually used dolls. This picture was later used for movie covers – twice, actually.
You’re aware of the contest for the front cover.
Yeah, I’m looking forward to seeing that. I received some very strange photos. Some person (Damian Pring from Yardley, PA) depicted the Nuns Have No Fun cover with dolls. When I first looked at the pictures I was asking myself what sort of strange effect was on the photographs. Then I realized they were dolls.
That’s creepy, in a way, isn’t it? It’s more creepy than a real life photo could be.
The King Diamond album The Graveyard has this lunatic in it. He’s killing off people and hanging their heads on the wall. He suddenly sees them as dolls. There is an instrumental version of The Immigrant Song done by Mercyful Fate somewhere on this planet that you haven’t found yet.
I think either they threw the tape out or they went over it. I remember us trying it, and it didn’t work. It just would not sound right. So I doubt that it actually exists. In those days they tried to save as much space on the reels as possible. It might have been an expense-cutting maneuver.
Yeah, and also, for the reissues Hank went into the studio where we recorded those albums and asked them for the master tapes. They said, “No, we sent them to Roadrunner”. What? When? Then we spoke to Roadrunner, and they never received any tapes. So in between people they just disappeared. I do have some really old stuff. I told you about that before… that Black Rose stuff. Every time I play it I say, “God man, this sounds pretty fuckin’ cool”. Even though it’s a rehearsal recording, everything’s so clear. I joke with Brian Slagel. I say I have this thing that no one has ever heard. And he says, “Any time. Just say the word and i’ll release it.”
You’re too much of a perfectionist for your fans, because there is a wealth of older stuff that you don’t want to officially sanction because of the drop outs and unstable recording levels.
You’re talking about the bootlegs. Right. The song Nightmare, in its earlier stage…
The very first version was called Shadow Nights. Then it changed into Nightmare – the old version. Parts of that were mixed in with the Nightmare you hear on Don’t Break the Oath. I have the recording of the concert with Shadow Nights, and that was when you yelled, “I hate disco!”
We were booked in a very wrong place. We were booked in a school, and it was the school’s last night. They thought they were getting a disco band. So there were ten people in the middle. The rest were boo-ing us, giving us the finger. Truck Driver…
That was in a Michael Denner 3-piece band. Danger Zone?
Yeah. That was when I was singing Mission: Destroy Aliens. It was written about this game where you shoot down these little things. You know what I’m talking about? Like an arcade game? So it’s actually a song about a video game?
Yeah! That’s why it’s so horrible! I could not relate to it. What the hell was the other song? Of course, Truck Driver comes to mind. I almost refused. I asked, “Are you serious? You want me to sing this? Can I change some words?” I ride down the highway in my truck. I’m a truck driver. God! Where does that come from? You know? He’s never driven in a truck himself. Where would he get an idea like that? I heard that Scandinavians have some sort of romantic notion of the cowboy subculture. And you are living in Texas…
(laughs) There you go. No, but serious, man… it was horrible. There was not 1% feeling behind it. It was a rock ‘n roll song first of all. It was not even metal. It was so not belonging anywhere. The song Persecution came from that era too.
Right. But that had feeling to it.
Well it was better than singing Truck Driver. So you might have gotten 25% out of me there. I want to get back to the song A Dangerous Nightmare. Supposedly it came from a London performance. It has the catchy part of the version on Don’t Break the Oath. Over it you sang the words “Eyes of Fire”. Does that ring a bell?
It might be something that John Kibble recorded, you know. That’s where I got it.
Well, there you go. He didn’t tell us about everything that was going on. Believe me. We didn’t know about certain shirts that were sold. Then we saw one. What the hell was that? “Hello dude. What are you making on that?” Then he had to explain that it was just for promotion and no profit. Yeah, right. I bought 7 cassettes from him for $40. But I am not accusing him, because if it weren’t for him, the world would never have these songs.
As long as people know these are bootlegs. That’s what bothers me. When some of it came out, also with him involved, it was presented as real albums. They even convinced some chains to carry the album. They (the F.B.I.) found the storage in London, and destroyed the whole shit. 5,000 or 10,000 copies were destroyed.
That’s quite a lot of copies.
He was selling to normal stores! I could go to Blockbuster and find it. You’re selling bootleg albums? “No, no. It’s from this record label here.” Three months after they destroyed it it was in the market again, but not in the shops though. It was presented as a genuine release, and that’s where you go really wrong. A person coming in for the first time, picking it up… “God, this really sucks!”
I actually heard that comment from someone who bought the Satan’s Nightmare bootleg album.
There was another one… Live From The Depths of Hell.
Yeah, that was the album that got me into Mercyful Fate. I’m sure you know the name Gene Khoury.
Oh yeah… He played live Into the Coven on his radio show, and he’s kind of responsible for me knowing anything about real metal.
He’s one of the early guys. Yeah. But the passion in your voice on that song (Into the Coven) was spellbinding. On the song A Dangerous Nightmare, your voice is so powerful, and I think it would be such a novelty for it to be released in some official way. But I guess the person who has the master tape would be John Kibble.
I would imagine so. I have not been able to track him down.
When you bought the tapes that long ago, did you buy them form a U.S. address? I wrote to the fan club address on the back of the Melissa album. My letter was answered with a flier from England, and it listed a band bio as well as a menu of tapes, and I bought them all. But anyway, I tried to write him again because my tapes have degenerated over time, and I thought his would be the most pristine on earth. But what I now know, and it is quite a surprise to me, is that he has the master tapes to those live shows.
That’s because it was never intended to be recorded anywhere. He must have had a tape recorder set up somewhere without anybody knowing it.. just recording shit and then selling it. Suddenly these bootlegs appeared out of nowhere. Then when you track it down and start asking people where they got it… “Oh, John Kibble.” What? He’s recording us? He’s supposed to work for us, but he records our stuff and releases them as bootlegs. Gee, that’s great. But I don’t know of a set from London recorded live. We played two shows back then in London… small clubs, while we were doing the B.B.C. sessions. He must have recorded one of those. Yeah, the other two songs from that bootleg are a version of Satan’s Fall with different lyrics… instead of “I don’t need your god” you sing “Satan is better than god”.
Yeah, that’s right. That’s a super early version. Then there was Nuns Have No Fun. There might have been a mike problem because the first verse wasn’t sung. But it’s so interesting for a fan. I can understand not wanting to have people listen to that stuff as a first-listen. But it’s extremely interesting.
Let’s say our fan club in Holland… if they had those things available for fans to buy through them, I wouldn’t care about that. But then, I know it’s a fan who already knows about the band, and it’s not going to be misunderstood. You know what I mean? If we had a good version of it and could mass produce it in a responsible way, then I’m sure that the record label wouldn’t bother if it was sold through the authorized fan club, because we don’t get any money – the fan club is run by some people in Holland who have been given the right to run the fan club. If they want to do something, they just have to ask us. They don’t have to account to us in any way.
Let’s talk about some of the changes in Mercyful Fate. I noticed you kind of dispensed the vibrato. Your voice does not waver so much anymore.
Oh it definitely does, Bill. I remember making the songs on this last album, and it was so hard making the backing vocals vibrate the same way as I just did for the lead. I do it by feel, you know. I don’t think about it. I do it naturally. They say in the control room, “You’re vibrating a little off”. and I’m like, “Let me hear it again.” Then I’m like, “Ok, don’t think about it. Just sing it. Let it come by itself.” But there’s definitely vibrato still. Did you not listen to the new album? I did, but I only got it today.
Oh ok, you’re excused. That’s a thing that, even if I wanted to, I couldn’t get rid of because I do it automatically. Perhaps it is just a confusion of words. Perhaps I meant “operatic vocals”. There was such a heavy amount of sorrow in your voice in the early Mercyful Fate days.
You know what I think you’re talking about? Vibrato will come in there to some degree no matter what I do, right? You’re probably talking about the exaggerated vibrato.
Yes! The character singing that you invented in the King Diamond albums kind of loses the classical sound that the early Mercyful Fate albums had. The vocals seem more lively… more upbeat. In the past, you had a very dark way of singing. Did you notice the transition?
No… I can’t even relate to what you’re saying. Now I’m gonna go and listen to every album again. It’s more like the color of the voice. You had such a tonal sadness.
Well, I was unhappy the day I sang the Melissa song. Now I’m so fucking happy all the time. But seriously, I have not noticed any difference. I think that it has a lot to do with what kind of music you’re presented with. It might be the tempo of the song. Melissa is a slow one. It depends on how much of that music there is to sing it to. It could also be the choruses of A Dangerous Meeting. It opens up for choirs because it’s so melodic… and it’s slow tempo. If you sang it straight, without vibrato, it sounds lame. I don’t think that any of what I’m doing today sounds lame or uninspired. But I am going to listen to the albums because you brought it up. I don’t take it as bad criticism. I always take it as good. I might be missing out on something here. I will never ask you anything out of disrespect, or out of criticism.
I’m positively going to go back and listen to some of it because… you might have a point is what I am saying. I mean it, seriously. That’s how I started singing falsetto, you know. Some guy told me, “Hey, you should work more on that.” Yeah, I think I will do that.
interview with King Fowley conducted by the Neckless Troll for issue #9 of “The Grimoire of Exalted Deeds: magazine,
(Neckless Troll) Who do you think would win in a fight, Gordon Conrad or Cindy Brady?
I’ll go with Gordon.
(Neckless Troll) What about Gordon Conrad and Punky Brewster?
I’ll go with Punky. She’s got some big chest.
(Neckless Troll) Yeah, she’s hot now.
She’s got some big guns comin’ out now.
(Neckless Troll) I heard you were a vegetarian.
Huh? Totally untrue!
(Neckless Troll) Yeah, I found that hard to believe because you don’t get a body like yours stealing grapes. (editor’s note – Rob stole that insult from me)
I fuckin’ hate vegetarians. It’s cool not to eat meat if you hate the taste. But not to eat meat because you don’t want to hurt animals is fuckin’ ridiculous. We should hunt vegetarians.
Exactly. The whole world has always hunted the land to eat. Why, all of a sudden, is it a problem?
Is it true that when you were a younger kid, you had a love for ice cream sandwiches? There’s a rumor that, one day, an ice cream truck came rolling by, and you were completely hypnotized by the jingle of the truck, and you stampeded over a small boy and broke his legs to get to the truck.
Well, yeah. Definitely true. That’s where I got all my humor… from the Good Humor man. It wasn’t really ice cream sandwiches. It was more one of those rainbow push-up pops.
I heard that you punched a girl in the face because she took the last of the ice cream sandwiches.
No. I wish it were true, though. It was always those snow cones. But I stopped eating those fuckin’ things when I got stung by a fuckin’ bee one time. The fuckin’ thing came at me because of the shit… you know, the syrup is always all over your fuckin’ hands.
Do you still go into a feeding frenzy when you hear the ice cream truck coming? It’s just uncontrollable, huh? You just push everyone out of the fuckin’ way!
You know, it’s weird that you said that because it’s kinda true. I play basketball down here at the courts, and the fuckin’ good humor man rolls up… I’m like, “Outta my fuckin’ way!!! Take the ball! Shove it up your ass! I’m gonna get me some ice cream!”
Do you have a preferred membership card?
I wish! I didn’t know they offered them. I don’t think I have enough credit to get one. So I’ll probably take one from somebody else.
( Editor’s note: The Neckless Troll was the fattest person in metal at the time of this interview, so it was off to see these questions coming from him) You seem to like foods that are high in fat. Aren’t you worried about clogging up your arteries? Dude, I can hear your cholesterol level rising.
Actually, to tell you the truth, I’m in pretty good goddamn shape for my age. I’m 29. But I’m a sports freak. I play basketball like 20 hours a week.
Are you part black?
No, no black. Actually, I’m the white-boy who can jump.
Do you live in a predominantly “black” neighborhood?
On no. All white. That’s why my records are still here.
Deceased seems to be a pretty big band, no pun intended. Do you get a lot of chicks?
I can’t answer that, man.
(The Pot Calling the Kettle “fat”) I’m sure a lot of women go for that “Fruitpie the Magician” look.
Actually, yeah. I could if I wanted to. But I don’t. Well, I have a girlfriend, so… none of that for me. But actually, yeah. You’d be surprised what a personality can do for a man. It ain’t the looks. We all know that I’m a fat ugly jerk. But that’s all right.
Is “King Fowley” your real name?
Did your parents name you that?
Yeah. My dad’s name was that.
Did they drink a lot of whiskey?
Actually, no one drinks in my family.
Crack, smack, or anything?
Why do you dislike Immolation?
I don’t dislike Immolation. I just get a bad vibe from them. They just don’t seem friendly.
Did they steal your ice cream sandwiches, or something?
No. they never did that. I get along with Ross just fine. And the new drummer seems pretty cool. The other guys just never talk. They’ve always been kinda like distant and kinda like uncool with us for some reason. I’ve never known why.
I remember I met you one time at the “Lion’s Den” You were highly praising Raven from ‘86. Why? the band is gay. They were even gay in their day. I don’t understand.
Fuckin’ Raven rules! They definitely went through a gay period. I’ll give ‘em that.
Remember that album, The Pack Is Back?
That’s a gay album. That’s about as gay as it gets.
I’m surprised Relapse didn’t sign them.
That’s not very nice to say. Wiped Out makes Macabre sound like fuckin’ dorks.
Do you have to be from Virginia to like that kind of music? Is there a lot of incest going on in Virginia?
I hope so.
How old were you when you kissed your cousin?
I don’t have any cousins.
I’m sure Virginia’s a nice place. I’m sure you live in a beautiful trailer park.
Actually, I don’t think there’s any trailer parks in Virginia. Maryland is where all the trailer park white trash is.
If you run into a room, wearing all purple, would someone shout, “Hey Kool Aid!”?
I hope so. Maybe they’ll stop calling me the undertaker from W.W.F.
Do you like the bands on Relapse?
No. Not at all.
Isn’t Relapse pretty politically correct?
They could be all they want. But Deceased is definitely not! We don’t stand for that shit at all!
Well, that’s the last question, unless you have something you want to add.
Yeah. Let’s do an interview sometime.
(Editor’s Postscript: The Neckless Troll was chosen to conduct the interview because he knew about the band, and Bill Zebub did not. Looking back, it might have been a mistake. The Neckless Troll had dripped out of school at the age of 15 in favor of working in a supermarket and hadn’t developed intellectually since that time. He’d occasionally make a funny statement or ask a funny question, but not enough to justify him being assigned to interview a band.
Bill Zebub met King Fowley at a horror convention after this issue was published. It was a fun time, and King Fowley proved to be an ultra cool character).
I have long been aware of demo songs from Sanctuary. I begged Warrel Dane for copies but he resisted. Alas, my wish was finally granted in this polished version.
Of course I had to select “Battle Angels” as the first song to experience. I was among the lucky ones in the past who received an e.p. of live songs, and “Battle Angels” was on there when Warrel Dane hit the tough notes.
The demo version of the song far exceeded my expectations, both in production value and in performance. Warrel Dane’s falsetto was strong and true. I remember that day long ago when I heard this song on the radio for the first time and I had to pull over. As soon as the disc jockey identified the band, I drove to a record store. Hearing the demo version was a similar experience. It was like renewing my vows.
The demo version differed slightly from the version that was on the “Refuge Denied album. This is especially enjoyable – not only do I hear a different performance – I also enjoy an alternate structure. This is quite the gift for a fan.
There is also material that is completely new to my ears. The song “Dream of the Incubus” features an astounding falsetto performance. it was an intense listening experience, so much so that i had to hear the song a few times before moving on. It was just too good to leave.
This is unquestionably a mandatory purchase. “Inception” is so good that I would dare say that it can be mind-blowing to a person who has never heard Sanctuary before. I strongly urge you to drop what you are doing and to get this album immediately.
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…