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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,
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…
Interview with Cronos conducted by Bill Zebub for Issue #21 of THE GRIMOIRE OF EXALTED DEEDS magazine
I understand that you had a false media war with King Diamond in the early days. You were calling him King Billy and he was calling you Cronfag.
It’s all good fun. We’ve had this since the beginning of our career. The first label that we were with, there was a band called Raven. As soon as we realized that Venom money was being used to fund Raven, that was it! You know? The war was on! We’ve always thought that it sort of creates a good… A little bit of rivalry between bands can keep everybody on their toes. Sometimes it’s good fun.
Americans like it. Professional wrestling is proof of that.
I mean, the thing for me, was… this is why I called him King Billy…. because when I first met him, he tried to sort come across to me like he was some fuckin’ hard core Satanic dude. You know? Which I was having none of it. I really wanted to sort of go, “Hi. How ya doin’? Do you wanna have a beer?” which is sort of my way of doin’ things. But he sort of wanted to sit at this table, with these candles around him, and stare at everybody. So we just sat around and got drunk and just took the piss out of him all night. Eventually, when he left… this is in Holland… he stood up from the table to go to his hotel room, with a glass in his hand. Now he had no shoes on. He dropped the fuckin’ glass, stood in it, cut his foot, and had to get rushed off to the hospital. You know? Like… (he cackles like an old witch who is about to lower children into a boiling cauldron). Really evil. (again, the cackle).
I never thought he would act like that.
Yeah. He made a right dick of himself. But I forgive ‘im.
What do you think about his music?
It’s not really my cup of tea. But it’s still heavy, and I do appreciate heavy. I’ve never really been into that high voice/low voice thing. You know? I was always a big Judas Priest fan. I can’t really get past that, really. But hey. Good luck to him. I mean, he’s doin’ some good shit. He’s got some cool titles and that. But I don’t really have to like the music. That’s the thing about this. With a lot of bands, so long as they’re ok people, that’s also a lot of the message that we’ve got. You know? Venom want to be a super group. We wanna put on a fuckin’ cross between a KISS show, a Judas Priest show, and a Black Sabbath show. You know? We wanna be that huge group. That’s what influenced us. But at the same time we wanna still come down to earth and have a fuckin’ laugh. We’ve tried to do that with Venom, not necessarily successfully. Some people say, well you’re not serious… you’re takin’ the piss… and you don’t chill out enough.. and you shouldn’t take yourself too seriously. Fuckin’ hell! You know? We’re musicians. We’re gonna do our job. But then we’re gonna get drunk and fall around like idiots.
So you won’t be doing any King Diamond covers on the next album?
Don’t think so. I remember goin’ through Germany once, when we played that first tape, and we’re all goin’ (in a high voice) “Hail Satan! (in a low voice) “Hail Satan! We just thought it was so funny. You know? I was runnin’ around with these fuckin’ bones in me hands, doin’ fuckin’ King Billy impressions.
The funny thin is that he is going to be in the same issue.
Hey, no problem.
There was a very brutal version of At War With Satan recorded in the old days. Will that ever be available?
Was that the demos? That was, wasn’t it? When we actually came over to do the Staten Island show… I remember we had Metallica on… ‘83. We had the demo for At War With Satan in our bag, and we went to these great parties with all these young kids and got fuckin’ out of our minds. I remember pulling out the tape and played it for everybody, and they thought it was great, and we got drunk and we left and we didn’t take the tape. That’s how that got out. But we didn’t mind anyway. We thought it sounded cool anyway. So we just went, oh well, what the fuck. Win some, lose some. We still had the album to do, anyway. So it was no problem to us.
Metallica actually opened for Venom. That’s very strange.
Not really. They were young spotty kids. I mean, that’s what we thought at the time. It was difficult for Venom to… fuckin’ hell! There was no fucker who really understood what we were doin’. So we had to really selectively choose who we were on the road with. A band like Metallica… we were sent over some stuff over to England and we heard it and we thought, well at least it’s fast. Because what we were hearing was all these Iron Maiden cover bands and fuckin’ Def Leppard shit. And we thought, no, these are gonna get murdered. We knew that the Venom audience was gonna crawl out of the sewers. We just knew that. You know? We thought, uh oh… this is gonna be fun! So we couldn’t have had some fuckin’ pretty boy band on support. They would have been murdered. But metallica were cool. Hey, they were young spotty kids. But at the same time they were really energetic, which we liked. It was the same with Slayer and Exodus as well. The energy that they had… plus they were young, plus they were pretty cool and everything. We had some good laughs.
So do your style decisions reflect those of Metallica? Will you be going down the same path?
My hair’s still down to my ass.. and I don’t wear make up… and I’ve got a girlfriend.
There are no pictures of you kissing a band mate?
I don’t think so.
By the way, there’s a severe thunderstorm in the area. So if I die, what a way to go.. die while talking to Cronos. There’s a backwards message on the vinyl version of Black Metal. Is the forward version message interesting?
Yeah! It’s on everything. I mean, fuckin’ hell! There’s more than just that. There’s that stuff on quite a lot of the records. The classic one that I always thought was when we first came to do the first single, I was all full of, I wanna do all these backwards messages. I was gonna do some lord’s prayer, or something. And then when we play it backwards it will be all wicked and spooky. And I was like, no… that’s fuckin’ really childish. What I’m gonna do is, I’m gonna shout “You’re gonna fuckin’ burn in hell! You’re gonna bleed for me!” When you play that backwards, then it sounds… you can say “Have a nice day” and it would sound evil backwards. But then when they spun the fuckin’ record backwards and hear us actually screamin’ that shit out… I just wanted to fuckin’ frighten people.
It’s good wholesome Satanism that the entire family can enjoy.
I think so. Yeah. Definitely for the fuckin’ family. Bring the pets too. They go really well on the barbeque.
This next question comes from a person who is quite knowledgeable about the Venom ways. His name is Paul Nestarok. He writes for me under the name “Paul Tergeist”.
Cool… Bill Zebub. (laughs in mockery)
When was the last time you smoked angel dust?
Fuckin’ hell! It’s got to be over 10 years now, when i was back in the States.
Would you like to talk about that, being that you are such a mighty role model?
Well it was just cool. I got stoned. (laughs) It was pretty cool. I really got nice and wrecked on it, and felt really wicked good after the show. I got it off some chick. She was Russian. She brought it. It was really fresh… still on the fuckin’ mint leaf and everything. It was really nice.
Any psychotic episodes?
No. We didn’t, actually. But somebody said we’d have to freebase it to have that effect.
I see. So it’s not a bad psychoactive drug, according to Cronos?
I’ve never had a bad one. I never had a bad drug. I loved them all.
You are quite healthy these days. I was wondering if you changed your habits… if you no longer partake of such things.
Yeah, I do my bodybuilding and I stay fit and everything. What it is, is I consider that if i stay fit then I can party harder because I recover quicker. But so does Mantas as well. It goes with the whole sort of Venom territory, I think. It’s healthy body/healthy mind. And plus, we did the first gig in ‘82 over in Belgium and sat backstage and looked at each other and went (in slurred speech) “Fuckin’ hell! I’m fucked!” And we just said that’s it, we need to get fit to do this. If we’re gonna be able to stand on stage and look like these cool dudes who we wanna look like, standing there all big and proud and hard core, not like (pants like a dog). You know?
You were rumored to be quite in love with Jack Daniels.
Oh yes. A rather nice thing to be drinking. Amber nectar.
Whenever your stage banter included Americans, it was not very flattering. I’m not American. So I don’t are. But I would be interested in your anti-American outlook.
I don’t think it’s anti-American. I think what it is is it’s a very realistic look at the differences between England and America. When I’m in America, if i take the piss out of Americans, you’ll find that I’ll also give the counter argument for the English. I just find that there’s some sort of good little conundrums that go down in America that seems to go over everyone’s head, yet it seems so obvious to me. The classic one is when you’re called a limy. I find that one really funny because when I say to people “What is a limy?” they say, “well, you’re a fuckin’ limy”. Yeah. Well, how do you come to that name? And they’re like, “Well, when the English got on the boats to come across to America, they had to suck on limes so they didn’t get scabies and shit. So that’s why you’re a limy.” But hold on. The English who came to America stayed in America. There were some English people who didn’t come to America. They stayed in England. That’s my ancestors. We didn’t get on that fuckin’ boat. We didn’t suck no fuckin’ limes. you’re the limy! An American is a descendant of the person who got on the boat and sucked on the limes. So the Americans are fuckin’ limy.
I got on the airplane, man. I had jack Daniels. Call me a fuckin’ jackie.
I’m sure there are plenty of people who call you a jackie.
Yeah. Just call me Daniels!
On the first vinyl pressing of Welcome to Hell, a poster was included. Will any kind of special collector’s item appear in a future Venom release, or is the small size of a cd too much of a limit?
That’s true. i think so. I mean, I’ll tell you where I think everything’s going now. I’m really trying to get me head into the sort of computer thing as well. You can get the wallpapers from the web pages… all the multimedia stuff… all the icons and the buttons and the bits and pieces. A lot of people are finding that to be a good addition to things now. It’s just a case of convincing the record companies that this shit doesn’t take up much space an the cd, and blah dee blah dee blah. Then we can start putting more on a record, really. Sorry. More on a cd, than we could on an album.
Like a virus, maybe.
Yeah. (laughs) Matrix virus. Take the red pill. I’m also a vinyl fan, so I look at a cd fuckin’ booklet and I just go “duh”. I want it bigger. At the same time, if you’re gonna be able to have stuff on the cd, even like video stuff like the cd rom… you buy an album and you get more than just music. You can watch it and interact with it and fuck about with it and everything. Mix your own Venom album.
Am I right in saying that there are not many professional pictures that were taken of Venom in the early days?
What it was was , what we did was, we only had really a couple of select photographers that we would let take photos, and everybody else just used to get us at gigs or catch us in the street or coming out of the gig or whatever it was. We used to use a KISS photographer, actually. It was a guy named Fin Costello. He took all the classic KISS shots. He’s an English guy. We went down and he says, “I came up with this idea for a photo session”. So the ones that we did, we did mainly with Fin Costello. Wicked good laugh. He knew all the shops to go around and get all the skulls and the bones and the mummies, fuckin’ chains, and the snakes. So we had good fun with him.
At the end of From Hell to the Unknown, I guess it’s a fake interview. But in it was the denial that black metal was the name of a music genre. It’s strictly a name for an album. But throughout the life of Venom that was a changing statement. One day black metal is music, and another day black metal is just simply an album name. So what is it today?
I’ve never heard that argument, really. If somebody says, where does the name “black metal” come from? It was a term that I created before we actually wrote the song. This is the honest way that it is. Being a fuckin’ big fan of metal music and rock and everything else, I’m also a big Van halen fan, and heard that he was doing a guitar solo for Michael Jackson. Fuckin’ hell! Heard the song… I think it was “Beat It”. I just went “Duh!” You know? Why is a fuckin’ rock fuckin’ legend like that getting involved with shit? The next thing I see is in the rock press, where you’ve got the heavy metal charts. You’ve got #1 with Michael Jackson with “Beat It” just simply because Eddie Van Halen had done a solo. So I remember goin’ into one of the early Venom rehearsals… I was furious. I was like, fuck this! We’re NOT heavy metal. Fuck this! No way! I don’t want to be in the same chart as that! We started playin’ with words.. like we were longhaired punks. We were metal punk. Then we were power metal. And by the time we actually sat down with the press and they were sayin’ “Right, what’s happenin’ with this, that, and the other?” I was like, “Yeah. Look, I’m fuckin’ sick of this shit! Fuckin’ listen to me now! This is not fuckin’ shit! This is fuckin’ metal, this, mate! This is in your face. This will kick your fuckin’ eyes out! You know? Don’t fuck around with this! This is black metal! This is power metal! This is speed metal. This is thrash metal! This is death metal! This is will kill you, this shit, man! Fuck off!’ I was just so angry. I was just so pissed off. I just thought, NO WAY! So that’s where that was all born from. Yeah, we then wrote the song Black Metal. We thought, let’s describe Venom in a song. Black metal is describin’ Venom. The actual genre that fuckin’ followed was simply… I mean, we formed a band that we wanted to see. We wanted a band to look like Venom.. So what the kids obviously did, our fans, went, “We would like to be like that as well”, and they took little bits out of Venom like we would’ve taken little bits out of Sabbath and Judas Priest and fuckin’ KISS and whoever influenced us.
And King Diamond?
Yeah… of course. (cackles) So that’s how all these sort of things come together. It’s other people who say, “Oh Venom are responsible for this, and Venom are responsible for that!” If I’m in any way responsible for the huge explosion of a whole load of fuckin’ demons, it seems like the gates of hell have just opened up, and a million death metal ugly motherfuckers have come crawling out and have infected the whole world… hell yeah! That’s what I say!
How do you feel about the Norwegians claiming that the 90’s music that they seemed to create is called “Black Metal” especially since they pay homage to Bathory instead of to you?
A lot of them pay homage to Venom as well. I mean, they’ve all got the Venom “Welcome to Hell” t-shirts. The whole thing is, they’re not really encapsulating the whole thing of what black metal is because black metal captures all of the metals, and Venom play fast songs and slow songs and moody songs and atmospheric songs… and they play only one style of music. They play like a death metal more like, and with a (in a Popeye voice) wicky wicky wicky wicky we… sort of like speeded up Popeye lyrics. There’s one fuckin’ song we heard a while ago. it was really funny. It sounded like Popeye singing “Oh I do like the babyside, the seaside.” I thought it was great! We were fuckin’ pissin’ ourselves laughing!
I think that was Immortal.
I got two people, the singer Abbath and the bass player Iscariah, to sing actually sing the lyrics of Popeye because they don’t have that show. They don’t know why I was telling them to sing it.
I wrote down the words lyrics down. (Cronos laughs, quite amused) I’ll have to send it to you.
It’s going to appear on one of my cd’s.
Brilliant! It’s like when you go to France and you get some French girl and she can’t speak English, and say, “Here. Do you want to learn English?” and they’re going “Ke?” And you go, “Yeah. Just say this. Say ‘fuuuuck meeee.” And they’re just standin’ there goin’ “Fok may?” that’s the best. Great fun.
Do you find a similarity between your song “Manitou” and Bathory’s “Baptized in Fire and Blood?” from the Hammerheart album?
No. Manitou was actually written during the Welcome to Hell days. So I don’t know when the bathory track was actually put together. But, most certainly not! The song Manitou was actually the original riff for the song “Possessed” It should’ve actually went… in Manitou, where the riff goes dil noo noo noo noo noo… right? That should’ve went, “Look at me. Satan’s child!” Dil noo noo noo noo noo. “Born of evil. Thus defiled!” But then as we’d done the Black Metal and At War With… album, we were startin’ to look at the “Possessed” songs and goin’ “Neh neh nuh nih neh neh.” So I came up with a whole new riff sequence for the possessed thing and put the Manitou lyrics to the Possessed riff to make Manitou.
It’s a great joy for me to play those songs back to back on my radio show. But no one has ever called me, like “Wow! That’s very similar!” It’s just something that maybe only I can hear.
But I don’t hear voices or anything like that. How do you pronounce it… a-BAD’-on or A’-ba-don?
In England, we would say A-ba-don.
Abaddon is no longer in the band.
Rumor has it that he found the direction of Venom to be taking a turn for the weak.
No. What it was was he fell in love with Marilyn Manson. Yep. He’s now gone into some kind of computerized drum technical frenzy type very bad Nine Inch Nails rip off shit. No thank you.
So he couldn’t do that just as a hobby and keep true in the Venom way?
This is what we didn’t understand, because we want to actually progress Venom. We sort of want to take Venom into this century… you know… corny, corny… everyone’s on millennium frenzy. We don’t really mean that. It’ s not just a reunion that we put together. We saw immediately, when we were playin’ the live songs, like “Evil One” and the crowd reactions… that we could actually keep this goin’. You know? When people say “come back”, it usually takes a week and they’re fucked up again. It’s like. we’ve been sort of back together no since ‘95. So there is a future in this, and we want to push this band. But what we don’t want to do is be influenced by other types of music, whether it’s Marilyn Manson or whoever. I mean, I quite like the Nine Inch Nails stuff. I think it’s fuckin’ insane, especially the first couple of albums. But everything else from then has always just been a rip off of Trent Reznor. The originators usually have the best ideas. I don’t really see that Venom can go down that kind of path. Venom are all about fuckin’ pickin’ up guitars and playin’ drums and gettin’ hot and sweaty, not pushin’ a whole load of buttons and lettin’ a load of machines do it.
The songs on Resurrection seem very radio-friendly, that is, until the profanity kicks in, making them commercially unplayable.
That’s the Zappa influence.
It just seems very ironic to me because they do seem almost like they were written for radio at points, but then just blatantly saying “Fuck you!”… it’s just sabatoging it.
Well, it’s the Zappa bit that’s comin’ out there. But we definitely didn’t think that because it’s a fuckin’ angry album for us. I mean, we spent a year fightin’ with lawyers, and all sorts of bullshit, and not playin’ the music, which was very frustrating. And the only way that we could get that frustration out when we started doin’ the new songs was actually just to write the most aggressive shit that we could, and that even goes with the titles and everything. I mean, even walkin’ into rehearsal one day after I’d lent Mantas the “Load” album of metallica… and this is definitely a fact, DEFINITELY… 100%… I lent Mantas the fuckin’ “Load” album and he comes runnin’ into rehearsal, like threw it on the floor, and just yelled “What the fuck’s that SHIT?!” And he says, “Right. I’ve got a new song called ‘Loaded’.” And he played the, and he said, “This is my answer to that!” So the track “Loaded” is Mantas’ answer to Metallica’s “Load” and “Reload”. This is Mantas sayin’ to Metallica, “This is fuckin’ Loaded!”
It seems lyrics in bands like Bon Jovi and other glamsters were a whole bunch of cliches maybe thrown into a computer, and the computer selected the ones that rhymed. Venom lyrics, in songs like “The Seven Gates of Hell” are very godly. You can actually send them to a newspaper for a poetry contest. No, I’m just kidding.
I know what you mean, though, because that’s how they start. That’s how all my lyrics start. They just start as a rhyme, an anecdote, a saying, a quip, something I’ve caught off the tv, walkin’ down the street, whatever… I mean, i do just sort of pick up on generalizations, and then I try to plant the seed and let the thing grow. Even a funny way that one word will go into another word can set us off on a whole wave, writin’ a strange lyric. You know? But also things that you see immediately as well. I was standin’ on stage in Greece and the whole of the fuckin’ audience had a right arm up in the air, like a big fuckin’ fist. And i remember standin’ there and I said to meself, “Standing there, arms out toward you, clenching fists.” And I thought, fuckin’ hell, that’s a lyric straight away. They’re all stretchin’ their arms out towards you, clenchin’ fists, and it’s one of the opening lyrics to the songs on the new album… Pandemonium. Things can come to me at any time. If you start wrtin’ on a catchy riff, then it’s gonna become somethin’ that will have a flow. I’m not into one of these songs… even like the Bon Jovi stuff… it’s so predictable. Fell in love/fell out of love. You know… again and again and again. It’s good to have fun with words, sometimes. And being English, you know, fuckin’ we’re renown for it anyway. we like to fuck around with our wonderful accents. (cackles)
And you also like to use really intense adjectives for the most simple things… like “frightfully” good. The lyrics in songs like “Seven Gates of Hell” are timeless. However, on the new album… and this is not an insult…
Well I’d like you to speak your mind.
It just seems that there are more 20th century phrases… maybe cliches.
How did you let that happen?
Because I think it’s just NOW. I feel it’s right to do that now. A lot of that stuff seemed like the right lyric to use at the time. I think we’re bein’ more aggressive with the things we’re sayin’ as well. I mean, we seem to be attacking christ more. We seem to be attacking people more. We seem to be being stronger. I think all of those sort of classic elements of what Venom songs were are sort of peakin’ with this album. I think we’ve sort of encapsulated a lot what Venom is about. There’ll be a track on this album for everybody, type of thing. And that’s how we saw definitely the Black Metal album. We knew that there’s be some fucker who liked at least one song on that album.
Rumor has it that you’re an aerobics instructor. (he laughs) Is that true?
Really? So do you do the step… (we both laugh)
You see what’s so funny? Do you know what it is? I wanna know what it is with guys… they just think it’s so fuckin’ funny, and yet you’ve got me standin’ in a room with like 50 scantily clad women.
Yeah. that’s an enviable position. But aren’t some of them tubs?
No, no, no, no, no.
So do you add erotic hip movements to your routine?
Without a doubt.
That’s so strange. Are you employed at mantas’ gym?
No. He has his own. He mainly just does martial arts. Kickboxing ,tae kwon do, karate… all this sort of stuff. You know? I mean, this is why we were laughing at Abaddon calling his album “Dance Metal.” If you’ve ever seen Abaddon, he’s like tow left feet. So I said to the European press, “Well if Abaddon wants to book the venue, maybe he can sell tickets, and he can stand on stage and demonstrate how you’re supposed to dance to this shit.” You know? I’ll get up there. if he wants to show me the moves, hey, I’ll give it a try. Chances are, he’ll get on stage and fall down drunk and piss himself.
When you get a bad review, do you send Mantas over to the journalist’s house?
Yeah. He is deadly. No! We definitely think people should always speak their mind. We are never hurt by a bad review, the same as when we have a good review… we don’t have a fuckin’ party. We have always made albums for ourselves. Like Possessed… we should have done a lot more work on that album. We’ve only got ourselves to blame. So we kicked ourselves about that. We don’t need anybody else to do it for us. It’s amazing to say that Venom thought that they could have done better on that album. It sells just as well amongst Black Metal and Welcome to Hell and At War With Satan. A lot of people who listen to Venom mustn’t think what we think. They think it’s a cool Venom album. They weren’t in the studio.
I’ve never interviewed a band from England that like d Kerrang. Why is Kerrang anti-English?
They’ve got tongues that are 3,000 miles long and they land right on the New York shore. I haven’t got a fuckin’ clue what their problem is with England. But, like, they’re so renowned for bein’… it’s so obvious, it’s like the fuckin’ snake out of Jungle Book. You know it’s gonna turn on you. You just know. You go to Kerrang. They’ll lick your ass and give you a good review. But you know that next week they’re gonna turn. They’re so predictable and boring. Let’s hype them up and knock them down. Fans decide to buy the records to continue that career, not because some fuckin’ little goose egg in an office is gonna try to make you or break you.
I don’t know about England, but in America, the major metal press is not composed of metalheads. They’re all nerds who used to get beaten up by metalheads. So do you think that this is just revenge against people who stole their lunch money? Seriously. Whenever I attend an event and go into the press room, I never reveal who I am. I just watch, and I’m amazed that these are the people who write about metal. If one were standing next to you at a show and maybe shared an opinion, you’d probably slap him or say, “No offense, but go away.”
When we did the Dynamo in Holland, Slayer did the next day. We sort of hung around the next day so we could watch Slayer up at the side, and there were all these obvious record company dudes with this short hair and fuckin’ suits on. And all the crowd’s like bouncin’ at the same time to this certain Slayer song, and everybody’s got the same groove goin’ down. Everybody’s goin’ up down up down up down up down. There’s these two guys like swayin’ side to side, like as if they’ve got an itch. Totally out of rhythm with everybody else. But you can also see them lookin’ around like, hoping nobody can see them. They were just so out of place. they were so fuckin’ out of place… in the safety of that besides-the-stage ooh-I’ve-got-a-backstage-pass… I felt like runnin’ out and throwin’ the fuckers right in the middle of the mosh pit! It’s like, get out of that one!
I think all metal magazines should have pictures of the writers so you could see who’s writing these reviews.
What we were gonna do… I mean, we never got around to it, we had loads of threats… what we were gonna do was we were gonna put a magazine together that reviewed all the magazines. (cackles) We would be reviewin’ the magazine from a week before. “Well, they slated Aerosmith, the sad bastards.” And just really pull the magazines down.. well, the ones who deserve it, of course. There’s fuckin’ plenty of them. The English press have that… sort of need to want to be different. You know? Even though the rest of the world might say, “Hail Aerosmith! Best band on the planet!” England will go, “Oh, we think they’re shit!” Just to be cunts. just to be sad bastards. Like, “Look, I had to get up this morning. It was still dark, and it was pissin’ down with rain, and cold, and I had to get out of me bed and review this. So fuck you.” It’s really sad, isn’t it?
It was cool watching Venom at the Milwaukee Metalfest.
Were you there? Excellent! We had a great time.
You played Seven Gates of Hell.
Indeed. We opened with it.
I heard you were at the bar, but i was loading in my stuff, and i though, well, maybe later. But later never happened. But it’s great talking to you now. I was wondering if you were happy with everything over there.
We never are. We always plan 210 things and then we get like 20 of them. And that’s always the case with Venom. We always have to oveplan and we always end up disappointed. But hopefully the crowd still get more than what they expected. So we try to get that sort of balance. Venom played 20 minutes late. The reason for that is because some fuckin’ suits came up to us with large fuckin’ wads of paper, saying, “Where’s the license for this pyro? Where’s this? Where’s that? Where’s your granny’s World War I teeth?” You know? It’s like, what a fuckin downer! We had all the signed stuff. We even had special pyro people. And these guys were just being a pain in the ass. One of the bummers with America is some of the laws are just too strict with things like that. Fuckin’ hell. we go to Europe and we practically fuckin’ detonate the country, and everybody loves it, and all the people come out of their houses and watch the pretty fireworks and applaud. And in America they go (in a grumpy voice) “Nope. Can’t set that off.” (cackles) America, the home of the free. You’re free to do whatever you want, but you can’t bring Venom’s pyros.
But you had plenty of pyro action at that show.
Oh yeah. But it was really touch and go because always Venom are in a situation where we say, “Where do we stand if we gotta be forced to walk on a stage if we haven’t got a pyro?” when it’s right there and we’re ready to go. Once the guys sort of tipped their hats and said “We’re out of here” and we got a chance to set the intro tape goin’, that was it. We just fired up in about three seconds. Boom! It was on. It was great. We fuckin’ ran out there. I fuckin’ loved it. It was great to see America after 10-11 years.
That’s more like the armpit of America.
But still, it was hungry faces. This is the thing. I mean, I’m not standin’ lookin’ at a crowd who are in their 30’s. I’m lookin’ at a crowd who are still in their teens. This is a new generation of Venom fans, and they’re singin’ all the fuckin’ lyrics. I’m like, oooh. This is fuckin’ wild. Probably some of the kids in the audience weren’t even born when Welcome to hell was released.
You heard the old Greek tale about the marathon runner who ran and ran and ran to warn his nation of some army advance, and as soon as he said his piece, he died.
That’s how i felt at the Venom show because I traveled 25 hours in one drive, and I didn’t sleep all day just to watch Venom. By the time you came on, I was the walking dead. And I forgot that there would be a detonation. When it went off, i really thought that I had died. I couldn’t see, and i couldn’t hear. And I didn’t know where I was. (Cronos was laughing the whole time)
That was very good. that was a good story.
That was the only concert event where I was horrified. It was because of the detonation. It just bewildered me. You robbed me of my senses.
(laughs) I tell you what, mate. After we got back to England, I got sent all the VHS videos from every fuckin’ angle. There’s a piece of video footage which is priceless. You could not pay for this. It’s from the mixing desk, and there’s a little bit of area where the mixing desk ends and where the kids start. There’s these two guys standin’ there. And you can see Venom on stage, and we’re goin’ through Countess Bathory. And when we set the huge big flames off, as the flames dies down, the two kids at exactly the same time turned around and looked at each other and sort of like waved a fist like “YEEEEEEESSSSSSSS! DID YOU SEE THAT?!!” I could not have paid them to do that. That reaction was just totally genuine. It was Countess Bathory. There was the flames. YES!!! Wicked, wicked great watchin’ that stuff.
I heard that Venom commands quite a fee to appear.
Well, yeah. All we do is, we say to the promoter, “You’ve got to be able to cover the cost of a Venom show.” And that included what Venom are gonna bring with pyro and crew and all the rest of it. It’s like what any band asks. I mean, we don’t walk away from gigs with pockets full of money. It’s not feasible to do that. The promoter’s gonna say, “Well, we can put X amount of money into it.” And whatever a regular band would then do and say, “Well, this is fee.” we have to say, “Well that is pyro and that is this and that is that.” We always wanna bring our own equipment. We always wanna bring our own guitars and amps and all the fuckin’ rest of it. A lot of bands, they’ll just take their guitars, and they’ll have all the rest of the gear provided. They’ll use any old amp. They’ll any old speaker. What the fuck. Venom aren’t like that because we like to get that Venom sound, and we feel that we can do that with amps that we trust. So that’s all extra fuckin’ air fares. It’s all extra carriage and trucks and all the rest of it. It’s a realistic fee, and some people can do it. It all depends on the venue and the area and to whether we have a big enough following.
It’s great that you clarified that because when people say that Venom commands a high price, it’s more a snobbish sort of thing. So you’re not living in the lap of luxury because of your random appearances.
Not really. The less live work that Venom do then the richer we get because then we can spend our royalties on ourselves. But as soon as we get into road stuff, hands always have to go into pockets to buy things. I mean, mantas has already been out buyin’ personal pyro and settin’ them off in his backyard. Strappin’ them to his guitars… he’s tryin’ to get these Ace Frehley rockets. A big KISS fan. He wants to fuckin’ have fuckin’ warheads comin’ out of his fuckin’ guitars.
I’ve heard quotes that you said when you started you wanted to be the best. Is that the best musically, or as far as showmanship?
Well it was a combination of our influences because we loved KISS and Priest and Sabbath and Tull and all these bands who had a stage show and who wore stage costumes and who were slightly untouchable and larger than life. So we didn’t want to be the regular t-shirt and jeans band. So we were really influenced by supergroups, and we wanted to be a supergroup. I remember that we used to say that Venom are all of the bands that have preceded us, thrown into a pot and mixed up. That is Venom. We have the KISS show. We have the Judas Priest leather. We have the hard core Sabbath lyrics. So you can actually section Venom off into all those kinds of influences. The same as you look at death metal and speed metal and all that now.. you know, all the Norwegian metal. You can see where they took this off Venom or where they took that off Venom, and progressed it all in their own ways. It’s all about influences, and i think that’s what makes music grow. When people take a little bit and then move it on another stage.
In the old days the extreme metal art was new, and there was a lot to be learned about recording that kind of music.
I’m also pretty sure that the recording budget for you in those days was pretty low.
Welcome to hell… we had actually… because i worked at the studio, I convinced the engineer to work for free. “If we come in for a few hours, will you work for free?” Yeah, because he was a mate. So then i went and talked to the studio boss, and said, “The engineer said he was gonna work for free. Can I bring me band in? There’s nobody in the studio. Fuckin’ blah blah blah.” He’s like, “Yeah”. So I was able to scam Venom into the studio for free to get some demos done. Now I’m then playin’ them for the record company. they’re like, “No. It’s shit.” Yeah, it’s like little Conrad’s band. You know? I was like, “This is wicked, this is wicked.” And they were like, “No. It’s lousy.” They had all these Ravens and Tigers of Pantang and like lame shit. So eventually the record company said, “Look. There’s three days spare. Go in and see what you can do.” So we had three days, and we recorded all of Welcome to Hell. Now that was demos as far as we were concerned. But that was recorded… vocals,solos, everything, mixed, finished. Sunday night, home. And then next week we got the record company saying, “We will release this as it is, now, as an album, or forget it.” We were like, “It’s demos! We’ve got to do it properly. Give at least a week or something.” “No, there’s no more money in the budget left. You release Welcome to Hell as it is, or fuck off.” The next day I walked in with the album cover, sayin’ “Here. Go for it.” which was the same as the single cover. Just very large and gold.
But don’t you find it strange that there are many bands, especially today, who are using adjectives like “true” to describe their metal? They romanticize the recording quality of those old days. You can’t possibly prefer that sort of production.
Well not me. I wanna improve it. I mean, a guy in Europe I was talkin’ to, he said the new album production is really crisp, and he likes the sound of the dirtier old albums. And i said, “No problem, dude. Put it on your hifi. Take all the treble off, all the top end. Turn your fuckin’ speakers up to full blast. It will sound like shit.” If you like to listen to things like you’re in some fuckin’ swamp. No problem. Put the album on and stick your head under the bath. Stick your head in the fuckin’ water. What the fuck? we’re goin with the times and we’re cleanin’ up our sound. but we’re tryin’ to fuckin’ make it heavier at the same time. I don’t think the crispness of the album has taken away from the fact that it also rattles the shelves. If I put that on next to Cast in Stone, it’s a fuckin’ louder heavier album. you’ve got to turn the thing down. You know? It’s like a beast. Amazing.
What would you say to those people who accuse you of… maybe this might be a little strong to say… it’s inappropriate anyway.. of selling out, because it’s too clean compared to the primitive sound of the old days?
I just think Venom are dead if we don’t move on. I think that was the point of this reunion.. so that we could progress it into a resurrection of Venom, because it was obvious that, yes, we’re gonna do the reunion. But we’re not gonna tour that forever. We’re either gonna put some new songs into it, or we’re gonna become some fuckin’ parody of ourselves. There’s a lot of bands in England who were famous in the ‘70’s, like Sweet and Mud and all these sort of like glam rock bands. they’re now together with all these different members, and they’re doin’ the clubs. they’re playin’ to like 20 people a night. And they’re singin’ the songs of their hits. It’s really sad. And we didn’t want anything to do with that.I mean, we had to take this band on, and it works. If people don’t dig it and don’t buy the albums, well then that’s the death of any band. If fans don’t want a band to continue, then just don’t support them and don’t buy the records. So it’s really them who determine Venom’s future. The fact that Venom are here 20 years later is because we’ve had consistent sales with what we’ve done that’s had enough companies to keep their eyebrows raised to say, “Here are some deals.” You know? As soon as that stops, as soon as Venom become has-beens and are washed out and the deals stop and the money stops then the band is fucked. So I think the only way to do this is to progress. I do think that we’ve only progressed slowly, though. I think we’ve only progressed in a small way. We haven’t changed our music or style. We’re not wearing different clothes. We haven’t cut our hair. We haven’t put make-up on. All we’ve really done is crisped up the production. All of the other elements of Venom are there. It’s always been Mantas and I who write all the songs. So we’ve lost nothing as far as the writing team is concerned. So all we’ve got now is a tighter drummer and a better sound. So I think we’re a fuckin’ winner with this one.
In demonology there was a rebellion in hell, where one faction wanted to keep mankind ignorant, and the other wanted knowledge, saying that new knowledge is new ways of evil. And I think new Venom is like that. i really liked the newer version of Manitou that was on Cast in Stone. But some people laughed at me and called me a poser. How could you say that I’m a poser?
A poser likin’ Venom… this is not right somehow, is it? A punk with a suit on. You now?
You’ve probably seen it yourself. Some people just try to out-underground everybody around them. There are other ways to get social power than to just knock everything. But I think you make effective use of sound. Your voice definitely needs that better production. You should do some speaking parts on some cd rom games.
Yeah. I did some for the new Exorcist movie.
It was said that you once renounced the dark side to your lyrics, saying that it’s purely a gimmick.
I never really said that. I speak from experiences and emotions and all the rest of it. I believe that today a lot of people… we’re not under the inquisitors anymore, and we haven’t been for hundreds of years. everybody’s resorting to more natural methods. everybody’s standing up for themselves more. i mean, even to the point of using aromatherapy and getting into natural herbs and everything. The whole sort of belief structure is changing. around the whole world as well. The witches are free and roaming all over, and there’s nothing to stop it. So the factions of hell i would have been on the side of would have been the ones of knowledge.
Interview with Ronnie James Dio conducted by Bill Zebub for Issue #8
I have heard that thou wert in a 50’s band.
Well, I never could understand that because everyone thinks I was a doo-wop singer or something. No, I mean, I had a band at the end of the ’50’s when I first started. But I wouldn’t consider us to be a ’50’s band.
What was that music like? Didst thou have the classic biker hair-doo?
I was never a biker, to tell you the truth – I think we were just getting pissed off about everything that “was” and didn’t want to be that anymore. So I think we were trying to create our own identity. That was a real transitional time anyway. We were just greasy bastards like everybody else. That music is no longer available?
I certainly hope not. It’s part of what your life is. But, you know… It’s so far away from where I took myself.
Art thou vocally trained?
How is it that thy notes are very true when singing live?
I got a great ear. I started playing when I was real young – playing the trumpet. I played all the way through high school. I got a real good sense of musicality, I think, from that. But I think most of it’s pretty natural. You either got a good ear or you don’t. It’s real hard to teach a good ear. So again,, for me, I’m pretty much always in tune. I heard something that happened when thou wert in Black Sabbath. It is very vague. But it had something to the effect of thou having an agreement with the band about public appearances with Ozzy. There was a show in which Ozzy might have come on stage, and the rumor is that thou walked off and never reappeared for the remainder of the tour, and Rob Halford took thy place for that one show.. Does that strike a bell?
Well, it had nothing to do with Ozzy being there, because Ozzy wasn’t there. We had about a month of touring to do from the East Coast, where we started, to the West Coast again. At the beginning of that tour it was already booked that we were going to be playing in Long Beach. We were going to get rid of that gig and open up for Ozzy, not once, but twice… in Costa Mesa. It was at that point that I refused to do those shows. We carried on and did the entire tour… until the last two shows in Costa Mesa, where Rob did go in and took my place. But that was all, really. It wasn’t a personal thing. It had nothing to do with Ozzy. Well, it being “Ozzy” made a big difference. I had left my band. They had left whatever situations they had… led us to reform Black Sabbath again, and to take it to other places… not just with one album… having thrown all those things away that were very personal for me, and going for the Sabbath entity, I felt that… for us to suddenly have to open for the actual lead singer who never really had anything good to say about any of us after it was all over, plus the fact that from the rumblings that I had heard… they were pushing really hard for a reunion anyway… So I felt that at that particular show they were probably going to announce that there was going to be a Sabbath reunion with Bill and Tony and Geezer and Ozzy. And that’s exactly what happened! I just felt that it was not correct for us as the Black Sabbath that we had re-invented to be the opening act for Ozzy. Whatever proportion that got blown out of is beyond me. It’s just me standing up for what I believe. I believed it for the band, not for me. It wasn’t a personal thing for me… opening up for the actual lead singer who had nothing but bad things to say about us, especially Tony. I think the sense of money was stronger than the sense of pride. They did the show. I didn’t. And that was the end of the day for me with the band.
The rumors made thee look like a brat. Well, that’s always the way. I’d have to take that everywhere that I’ve gone. “I’m difficult…” which is completely untrue. “I’m self-centered.. “ which is
absolutely untrue. Again, the things that I do, I do for all the people in the band. I thought every band I ever was in was going to last forever, each and every one – even the reformation with Sabbath. But you have to go into it with that attitude, not like Ian Gilan did when he did the album after me, the “Born Again” album. “Oh thank you very much. Oh, Purple’s ready? Off l go!” That was all so pre-planned and predisposed, and that really bothers me. But any way, I’m the one who supposedly took the blame for it because I didn’t do the shows. Maybe I was at fault. But what could I be at fault for? They DID play the shows. They seemed very happy to do them. They seemed happy with Rob. I’m sure he did a great job. And they got a chance to announce that they were going to re-form and make a lot of money, which I’m sure made them all happy until Ozzy said, “Aah… I was only kidding. “ By that time, whoever had set about to destroy what we had put together again,did a really good job of it. A lot of it was very well thought out by someone. Wouldst thou say that thou left Black Sabbath on bad terms?
As usual, we kinda left on “no” terms. We never had a lot of communication except for the early days. Tony is a really nice, funny person. I don’t think that we harbor any resentment for each other, except for a couple of little instances. But I’m sure that if we saw each other right now, it would be exactly the same as it always has been – a hug and a “hey!”
I heard that thou left because they wouldn’t let thee play trumpet on any of their albums.
Trumpet AND bongos. That’s what really pissed me off. ‘They wouldn’t let me play bongos. To a man who had once sold out arenas how does it feel to be reduced to a tour of small clubs?
It doesn’t feel any different to me. It never has. I’m a musician. I always have been. That’s all I ever wanted to do. And I have been all these years. So I accomplished goal #1. Playing in arenas just happens to be a by-product of some of the success you have. I never asked for that either. It makes you want to be on stage. It’s very impressionable to the young mind. But it wasn’t really the be-all/end-all for me. Luckily, I was able to get to that point. I just take life for what it is. I’ve always been really realistic about it. If you could have one good career that lasts you like 5 years tops, then you’re pretty damn lucky because this is a brutal business where you come and go very quickly. I’ve been lucky. I had careers three different times. Four or five, really… from ELF…
Interview with Eric, conducted by Bill Zebub for issue #27
A long time ago I had read a few articles in which King Diamond was said to have cast a spell on Manowar because they fucked him over in some way – maybe having something to do with not letting merciful Fate borrow some amplifiers. Years later, when I had asked King Diamond about this, he refused to say anything bad about Manowar, and he declined my offer of letting him give the un-edited story, dismissing it as simply a thing of the past. The stories in the old magazines didn’t really fit the character of King Diamond and it seemed that they blew the story out of proportion. The truth was probably far less interesting than the fictional drama that was presented by those charlatan journalists. When I spoke with Eric, the singer of Manowar, I told him what I had heard, and I asked him if he would give his side of the story. I made it clear to him that I distrust metal media, and that I am not going to fuck him over. As he told the tale of those early days, I thought to myself that I had a gold mine, especially because my interview would embarrass those so-called “professional journalists. But as Eric spoke, I sensed that he was under the impression that King Diamond had bad-mouthed him, and I explained to Eric that King Diamond could have devoted entire chapters of ant-Manowar sentiment in my magazine in any of the countless interviews I had done with him, but King always refused to say anything negative about Manowar, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the metal press had misquoted King, and Eric and I both laughed because he was no stranger to being misquoted in the press himself. So rather than print herein that first segment of my conversation with Eric, let me just say that my prediction was true – the actual story behind those dramatic headlines of the past were entirely false, and I am happy to report that Eric finally was made aware that King never badmouthed him – it was the lies of the media. I would like you to take this time to appreciate how cool I am. Just kidding. What I do want you to do is to always question what you read because you are probably not aware of the motives behind an article or review (and that goes for what you read in the Grimoire too).
(editor’s note – Strangely, after getting Eric to talk about the past, my tape recorder ate the tape and stopped suddenly, so I had to waste some time putting Humpty Dumpty back together again)
(Eric) What are you doing, man? (laughs)
It’s a Satanic curse.
(Laughs) I gotta show a little respect for King. Let me tell ya, it happened so goddamn long ago. What’s the big deal? That’s how I look at it now. There’s King Diamond fans. There’s Manowar fans. There are Manowar fans that are King Diamond fans. You know? At the end of the day, you wanna go see King Diamond – go see him. You wanna see Manowar? Come see us. It’s what the fans want. You know? Bullshit – at the end of the day – should be swept under the carpet. It’s water under the bridge now.
Yeah. I just wanted to destroy any kind of stupid rumors.
Yeah. Both our careers are still riding high right now. So, I mean, who cares about it now? It’s over and done with. That’s the way it goes.
I’m just glad that I finally heard the real deal.
Well, you heard it from me, anyway. That’s exactly what I remember happening. I think this happened in ’84. It was a long long time ago. We treat everybody who opens up for us with total respect. We really do. We always have.
Have you ever been told that you guys play too loud?
(laughs) All the time, brother!
I used to never understand why people wore earplugs until I saw you guys.
(laughs) Personally, I think that metal music should be played loud. It’s powerful music. If you’re gonna be playing loud, you not only have too see metal – you have to feel it. So I wanna be in that crowd and I wanna feel that bass drum hit me in the chest. I think that’s part of the show. I want that when I’m out there. It goes with the territory. It’s gotta be loud.
Are you vocally trained?
No. I had to learn how to do it from the school of hard knocks. Hard Knocks University. I think it’s just from years and years and years and years of being out there, singing, finding out what works for me and what niche I can get into to make it so I don’t have a sore throat at the end of the night. (laughs) I found a way that works for me. I sing from my diaphragm. I don’t sing from my chest any longer. When I do that I find that I have control and I don’t have a sore throat.
There was a period of time in which I was trying to find someone to teach me opera. This girl I talked to told me that it’s harder to sing metal than it is to sing opera. (I laugh) I noticed on your new album that you are actually singing an opera song.
I did study opera to do that. I did go into the city and I studied with an opera singer. And I don’t know if I agree with that (editor’s note – that metal is harder to sing than opera), maybe because I was brought up with metal. Opera was a whole new thing for me. To learn how much wider your mouth has to go when you’re singin’ opera – it’s unbelievable. To really project and to make it sound like it’s supposed to sound – it was a lot to learn. It was a lot of work, man.
I’m pretty sure that the girl who told me this only said that because she was training metal vocalists. I don’t think she had an opera background.
Yeah. It’s definitely two different styles. The only thing that you can say about both is that, to sing correctly you have to sing from the diaphragm. But opera is an entirely different thing. Opera is more breath control.
Bands on tour have maybe a drum tech, a guitar tech, but manowar is the first band I heard of that actually has a Harley tech.
That’s true! (laughs) That’s right! (laughs hard) You’re right, brother! Well come on! You’re talking to a band that, when we’re on tour for Europe we have a tour bus for the crew, a tour bus for the band, and a tour bus for the chicks! And that’s true! (laughs) Yeah, we have a Harley tech. It’s pretty wild. But we’re kinda known for doing pretty wild and different things. Scott is his name. He comes on the road whenever we bring the Harleys out. He takes care of the bikes. That’s his gig.
So you guys would never park outside of a biker bar with Japanese bikes.
No, no! (laughs) I wouldn’t own one, brother! (laughs hard)
It seems that bikers are pretty Manowar-knowledgeable. One particular guy, Jay, asked me how you feel about terrorism. Manowar is supposedly very pro-American.
I don’t know about being pro-American. I mean, we’re proud to be Americans, sure. We’ve has songs that talked about, and still do talk about heroism. We talk about how when things are down lift yourself up. Be a leader, not a follower. Believe in yourself and do what you feel is right. Fuck everybody. Don’t take shit from other people. We’ve always had songs – from Battle Hymns – biker songs. We still do. It’s kinda our life. We’ve always ridden bikes. It’s part of a lifestyle. It goes with it all.
Someone wanted me to rib you about the bass player wanting to be the singer of the band because he likes to talk between songs, but he couldn’t pull it off so he got you. Why is it that he talks between songs?
(laughs heartily) Because I get very little time to go backstage and sip on water and do whatever I have to do. That’s my only time I really get to rest up. All I can tell ya’ is that that’s my time – when he talks. It also gives a different perspective. People hear my voice all night long. And every other band – the lead singer does all the talking between songs. Because everybody else does it we decided not to do it. Sometimes Scott will get up and say something. If I’m singing all night long, you heard my voice enough. If Joey’s got something to say, he says it. His time to say it is a certain time in the set. It gives me time to do whatever I have to do – either change my outfit or do whatever I do backstage or talk to some chick backstage – whatever.
There are some death metal vocalists who speak in a normal tone between songs and they sound kind of gay, so I was wondering if you were ashamed of your speaking voice.
(we both laugh) You know, as a matter of fact, the new show that we do, it’s just one big medley of Manowar songs. There’s no talking in between. There’s no talking until the very end of the night. The songs just go into one another. There’s no rest at all. Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang. It’s pretty rip-roaring ass-ripping.
I don’t know what happened to Ross the Boss. Was that a friendly thing?
Oh yeah. Ross came up to us after Kings of Metal and told us that his heart was into blues, and he wanted to play a more blue-sy style of music. Hey man, ya’ gotta be happy. So we said OK. He finished the album with us and put his heart and soul into the album, and then it was time for him to move on. We want him to be happy. So we did what we had to do. Sure, we’re still very close friends. He was just here to sign the albums for the Silver Anniversary Edition. He came up and autographed albums. As a matter of fact I think he’s on tour right now with Manitoba’s Wild Kingdom. We’re still close friends. It’s not like I talk to him every day. I mean. All past members of Manowar are on really good terms. We own our own record label now – Magic Circle Music. Rhino, our old drummer- he’s got a project coming out on Magic Circle, and so does David, our guitar player. Once you’re in the band Manowar it’s like an inner circle of brothers, and that never changes.
Unless of course you buy a Japanese bike.
(laughs) Unless you buy a Japanese bike. Then you’ve got to do some explaining.
Manowar had Viking lyrics before this whole black metal explosion. I was wondering you were considered Viking metal, like Into Glory Ride. How do you feel about the Viking theme in that explosion?
It’s always been our image right from Day One – to bring music back to its origin. People were getting out of hand and it was more important to see a balloon blow up backstage. That got the biggest applause. You know who I’m talkin’ about. That got the biggest applause when people started blowin’ up fire and bombs on stage. That got the biggest applause of the night. People were kinda losing the fact that music is why people get out there. So we’re trying to bring that back to its roots. That’s how we started singing about Vikings and that whole image. It was a strong powerful image. Think about it. I don’t know if you’ve ever been up in that area – Sweden or Norway – but it isn’t like Florida. The weather’s pretty shitty and these guys are out there in ships in those days, out conquering the fuckin’ world. Some bad-ass guys back then. The whole image was a cool image to have. We thought, no one else has done this, so let’s do it. We pioneered it. It’s amazing how other bands now – you pick up albums in the heavy metal section – how many bands carry swords? It’s incredible.
I was always wondering if you were aware of that movement, but touring with Immortal, you became aware if you didn’t know about it before.
We’re pioneers in a lot of things. We’re the first band to record digital music – full digital sound. We’re the first band to record with symphonies behind us. And now we’re the first band ever to record in Super Audio CD format. It’s a brand new format that’s just coming out. Phillips approached us when we were in Europe mixing this album. They wanted to know if we’d be interested in being the first band to come out with Super Audio CD. It made sense. We’ll do it. It enhances the sound. It’s like we can put the audience on stage. So if you’re listening to Warriors of the World in Super Audio CD format, you can hear the drums behind you, the vocals in front of you, the bass on your right and the guitar on your left. Pretty cool. We put you right up on stage. I think it’s the future of music.
Did you guys ever play Dungeons and Dragons?
I did when I was younger.
You can’t hide it.
(laughs) Is that right?
Actually, I used to play Into Glory Ride just to get in the mood. That was the pre-game album. Almost everybody I know raises the horns for that album. It’s a must-have metal album.
I don’t know if it was a turning point for us, but it was the favorite of a lot of people.
Were you aware that Anal Cunt did a cover of Gloves of Metal?
Yeah. I heard it. It’s hilarious.
Were you the guys who invented the “Death to False Metal!”?
Yeah, we were. That’s another thing that everyone picked up on. We’re the ones who started that because there were too many bullshit artists out there who were passing themselves off as musicians. They can only be a musician in the studio where they have all the gimmicks. Then when they go out on stage they’re fuckin’ their fans because they can’t play live.
Would you agree that Germany still holds the flame for power metal?
I don’t think it’s just Germany. It’s throughout Europe. It’s Brazil. It’s Japan. Metal’s pretty happening everywhere, except the United States. I think it’s a couple of reasons. MTV is one. They just refuse to play metal. I think radio’s another. They refuse to play metal. And record companies don’t want to spend the money to keep metal bands on the road. It’s an expensive proposition. The metal fans that are out there are true metal fans. They believe in the band, just like anywhere else in the world. Anywhere else in the world you’d be playing for 10,000 people a night.
I think it’s kind of silly how yuppies turn their noses upwards at the mention of metal, but if you compare the lyrics, metal is cerebral and the other is full of words like “Yeah baby.” So I don’t understand how they can look down on something that’s superior.
It’s just got a bad rap in America.
Or rap is bad.
Yeah, I’m really mad about rap, especially the hybrid of metal and rap.
So I guess you don’t have that in your record collection.
No way! That, or country. Ok?
Is it true that Manowar is at war with Nevermore?
No. Not at all. I’ve never head that we were at war with them.
It’s one of two stories. Either Warrel Dane uccuses you of ripping off his style of singing, or I heard that in the early days some girl called him a Valkyrie, but as an insult, and he didn’t know that a Valkyrie was a girl, so he kept telling everyone that he was a Valkyrie, and he found out that the Manowar lyrics showed the truth that A Valkyries were female, he wanted to put you guys down to silence the fact.
No. I never heard about that. That’s news to me.
I just made that up.
(Laughs) You fucker! (laughs) They’ve been around for a while, and I think they play from the heart. If they play from the heart and not from the wallet then it’s true metal. If you wanna make money from this business, be an entertainment lawyer.
What’s the story with Metal Blade and your Magic Circle label?
I couldn’t answer. Joey deals with all that.
Interview with Peter Steele conducted by Bill Zebub for issue #10
There are people who have heard the radio hits like “My Girlfriend’s Girlfriend” who don’t even want to give the album a chance because of that. It seems that Type O Negative has bi-polar disease. You have songs like that, and then you have songs like “Bloody Kisses”.
I guess that makes us schizo-phonic. I mean, I can write really poppy stuff and I can write stuff from my heart… you know, really slow songs about self pity and death and all the good things in life. And I think that I would rather write songs about the latter, the things that come from my heart and from my balls -not things that will come from my bank account ultimately.
You have bowed out of music before. After Carnivore you had a good job for the city. And you’re hooked right back in with Type O. Do you think that after this dissolves, as you say, that you might be seduced back to the dark side yet again?
Anything is possible. But you know, I think this so-called rock music is the youth. And I believe that it should be played by youth… and at 36 years old, I mean, I don’t feel like an old man, but when I’m on stage and I see 16/17 year old kids up in the front row, I’m like, “Wow. those could be my kids”. When the day comes that I’m on stage and I say, “Those can be my grandkids” then that day’s never gonna come. So, with this album, if I don’t make my mark now, then I think I’m never gonna make it. I’ll just move onto something else. You now what I’d really like to do is really fuck the record company and just… even after this next album, just finance my own recordings and take out a PO Box and sell my CD’s really cheap, like $5 each, to kids that just want to listen to what else I’ve been doing. It wouldn’t be such a money-making thing. It would be misery loves company, and I’m great company. So send me five bucks and I’ll send you a horrible CD of my latest music.
Ah… the self-deprecating style.
No, it’s the truth. It is complete objectivity. I look in the mirror and I see nothing more than 240 pounds of really low-quality chemicals. And that’s about it.
I saw in your video that you’re quite the vitamin boy.
Yeah, I got a lot of stuff there. Most of it’s legal.
You’re not talking about that caffeine-like substance that gave a weightlifter a heart attack.
Oh, that was ephedrine. No. Toxicity is a matter of quantity. If you overdo anything you’re gonna die from it. So I don’t get freaked out when some kind of new substance comes out and somebody dies of a heart attack, because if you overdo it or if you have a problem that makes you susceptible to some of the side effects, then you’ve got to be careful. But otherwise, no balls, no glory.
The health thing… was that a sudden idea for you?
No, I’ve been working out for the past seven years consistently, sometimes more intensely than others. But I always try to maintain myself, somehow to, I guess, feign off old age. And part two is, no one likes to see a fat bastard up on stage trying to look sexy while there’s thirty pounds of fat hanging over the sides of his pants.
I didn’t know you were so conscious of such things.
Sure man. I think when you go to see a band it’s not just a sonic thing. It’s a visual thing as well. I think the people who are up on stage should have some kind of acknowledgement of self-image. It doesn’t mean that you have to be conceited. But if you’re not looking so good and you can change it, well change it. If not,well then get the fuck off the stage.
The first album “Slow, Deep, and Hard” had gruff vocals and it had traces of Carnivore in there.
That’s because probably at least half the songs were left-over Carnivore songs.
Then “Bloody Kisses” had a sudden turn… no warning at all. But in the Carnivore song “Male Supremacy” it showed that you can sing.
It shows that I at least try. Let’s put it that way. I think after “Slow, Deep, and Hard” I realized anybody can scream their head off. Anybody can do this. I think it takes not so much more talent, but at least more effort to attempt to sing on key and try to work out a melody that people might remember. I’ve had people come up to me and say, “You know, Pete, I think you’re a fuckin’ dick, but I just can’t get your songs out of my head.” And I’m like, I don’t know whether I should thank you or punch you.
And King Diamond… what do you think of his vocals?
I really can’t say anything bad about him. Just because I’m not a fan of his music doesn’t mean that I can’t appreciate what he does. When I was into heavy metal I thought he was great. you know, like ten years ago. The mere fact that he stuck with it and that he can still reach those high notes.. I don’t know, maybe he’s got a C-clamp on his balls… I don’t know. But I think that’s worthy of a compliment. But I think that men should sound like men, which is not putting him down, but if I’m gonna hear somebody sing in soprano, this person should have a vagina.
The reason I asked you was, in the song “Love You To Death” you had a vocal style that I hadn’t heard before, and it had a bit more emotion to it… sort of like King Diamond.
You confess to that, then?
I confess that some of the vocal stylings that I use come from metal. I mean, I was always into bands like Sabbath and Priest and Deep Purple. But I’m not going to say that any of my techniques come from King Diamond.
There have been things that your record label has suggested to you that got you into trouble. Weren’t you told to be very outrageous in a series of interviews and you said “Rape is a beautiful thing?”
Well, it seems like the person that was interviewing me that time failed to realize that I was being sarcastic. This guy who actually interviewed me in my own house and was sitting on my furniture and after me making him coffee had the balls to go and turn this into something that made me look really unfavorable. Of course, having five sisters and five nieces, rape… the only punishment for rape is castration, which should be done by the woman who was raped. So it was sarcastic. I guess you can call it a joke in poor taste which I do regret. But I regret not having met this writer after he wrote this, because I am going to… let’s see, pick him up and break him over my knee like a piece of really cheap plywood.
But you wouldn’t rape him because then he’d have to castrate you.
Would I rape him? Maybe with my bass.
Would you say that your attitude toward women was reflected in albums?
My main problem with women is that I base my entire existence around them and I love them to death. That’s why I get so upset when they fuck me over or when they walk out on me. So it’s not that I think that women are any different than men because I think that men actually fuck over women more. It’s just that I hate people in general. I’m a specist. Human beings are the lowest forms of life. We are the only species that will shit where we eat.
“Shit” has a significance. You shit on your own picture.
Yes, that was actually real shit, by the way.
In some cultures that’s used as a sign of manliness. He who shits the biggest log…
Do you now how much talent it takes to actually be able to shit on cue? I went to catholic school for eight years to learn how to do that.
In interviews you often complain about the facilities on tour.
Yes, I am a person who is very comfortable being home. I’m a person who likes a routine. I don’t like the fact that when you’re on tour you can’t date when you want, you can’t even take a shit when you want, you can’t eat when you want, you can’t even do laundry when you want. So it’s like you have to seize every opportunity you can to do the thing you have to do at the time because you never know when it’s gonna come, and this is something that I really dislike about touring – which is the other reason that this album may be my last. I’ve been all over this world and I have seen nothing. There was so much touring and so many shows back-to-back.. you pull up, you play, and you leave. That’s it. I’ve seen every highway and I visited every single McDonalds. That’s it.
How did you learn to cope with a bathroom that was less than supreme?
By lining the toilet on the tour bus with a plastic bag that we can crap into. And then if a car cut us off we would make sure that we got ahead of it at some point and just open the window and let loose the bag.
What is your favorite filling for pierogies?
Perogies… they’re way too fattening. Is sour cream in there? Is that what’s, like, normal?
I don’t know. I heard that you were a Polak. So you should be the pierogi specialist.
I have, like, 1/16th Polish blood in me. So I never even tasted one.
What else comprises the Pete Steele make-up?
Icelandic, Russian, and Scottish.
I heard that after reading up on Chinese legends, possibly even being in China, rumor has it that you found out about the Chinese vampire and you wanted to bring in a Chinese woman to do keyboards for you… to bring that particular legend into the gothic scene.
That’s complete news to me. I never said anything like this. I have never even heard of a Chinese vampire.
Well supposedly the way we have heard of the European vampire changing into bats and wolves… the Chinese vampire changes into a snake and he doesn’t bite his victims. He constricts his victims. And you thought that this was more romantic.
I certainly don’t think so.
I created that rumor, by the way.
I don’t know what to say. You had me going there.
I’m sorry about that. Have you ever been mistaken for a woman?
I told you I was going to ask you dumb questions.
Have you ever met Pat, from Red Stream?
From Red Stream?
Yeah, it’s a label in Pennsylvania. (editor’s note – the label is now in Florida)
Possibly. I’m not sure. Is this a male or a female “Pat”?
Well, he has feminine tendencies.
It could just be that he’s affectionate.
Well I don’t know. I meet quite a few people, and if I did meet him I would probably recognize him by face and not by name.
I heard he offered you a deal for some alternate recordings and that you were at his house. He lives kind of on farmland.
And you were quite taken by his donkey “Pierre”. That’s what he calls it. I don’t know why, but you were trying to hand-feed the donkey and that it either accidentally or maliciously bit your favorite bass finger, and that you remember him since then.
Uh… either I was really drunk and I don’t recall any of this, or this guy is just out-and-out lying. I don’t think I ever touched a donkey in my entire life.
Have you ever played Dungeons and Dragons?
No, but Josh was really into that for a while. I like to live my life that way… rather than sit home and gain weight and eat a pint of Haagendaas and wash it down with Absolute Vodka I would rather be out there and doing the exact same things that these people are just fantasizing about with this little board game.
The reason I ask is because you either have a great awareness of various legends throughout the world or you played some sort of fantasy role-playing game.
I’m into my past… Celtic, Norse, Slavic. So I definitely read up on history, and of course, there’s a lot of culture and religion in there and stuff. So from time to time these subjects do come up. But I certainly don’t play any games. I think the last game I ever played was “Twister” and that was with two naked women… which I do not regret.
How much input did you have with the stuff between the videos?
Let’s just say this… it was actually me that came up with the idea that I wanted to put a video out and my main goal was to put out the 5 professionally done videos onto one tape so that the fans who could never find them anywhere could finally go out and buy them if they chose to do so. The second reason being that we were between albums and I thought it would be a good idea to let people know that Type O Negative had not been killed in a Pakistani train wreck and that we are still here and the honeymoon is not over yet. So this is like a bridge over the River Styx… two sides of agony. But to finally answer your question, it was I who came up with the concept, but it was Josh who scanned all the footage and chose all the embarrassing tidbits that took place between videos.
Adding to the self-deprecating style.
But that, you must admit, has been somewhat of a factor in your success.
Oh sure. I mean, i don’t think that I am better than any one of our fans that goes out and buys one of our CD’s. Or, I don’t think that I am better than the bacteria that is all over this fuckin’ phone right now that is probably gonna cause some kind of sickness three days down the line.
When you meet a woman, is she usually a woman who knows you through the band and has all these assumptions about you, or do you like to date outside of the Type O fame?
I like to be with women, whether I meet them through the band or food shopping or if I run over their foot with my car or something. I like them to like me for what’s inside first. Then I’m hoping that they like what’s on the outside too. I think there’s no shame in admitting that the first thing I notice about a woman is how she looks. Then I’m hoping that the inside matches the outside. But I’d rather date a not-so-good-looking woman who has a great sense of humor and is intelligent and confident than some really attractive one who just has a vacuum inside of her.
What is your attitude about death metal?
I think death metal is a great outlet for young people just because it’s heavy, it’s hard, it upsets parents, and pretty much sings or speaks about some of the things that fans of the music can actually go out and do themselves. So I think, just like anything else, death metal is simply a form of sublimation. It’s safe to buy the CD and maybe fantasize about some of the themes. But there’s really not that much worth going to jail for. Some of the subjects that I’ve heard, whether it’s black metal or death metal… I mean, I don’t try to draw the lines too much. For me, that’s like condemning someone to a death sentence ultimately when you put a label on them because once they try to change then the fans are gonna think that they sold out. When I like music I don’t care what you call it. Music, to me, is a pleasing and logical succession of rhythm and tones. That’s how I judge it. I don’t care if a guy has white face paint on or how he looks or how she looks. If I like it, I like it. If I don’t, I don’t.