Category Archives: Operatic Vocals

Die Verbanten Kinder Evas

Tania Borsky / Mara Sol (ex-Summoning, ex-Die verbannten Kinder Evas) -  Photos | Facebook

Interview with Tania Borsky conducted by Bill Zebub

When I first heard your voice I lost the world. I felt a pain in my chest and my breath was caught in the cage of my lungs. My hand stopped the song, and I prepared to hear you again in a more fitting way. Plugging in the most expensive headphones on the market, turning off the lights, and laying on my bed, I closed my eyes and heard you again. Your voice touched me deeply. Yes, you are schooled in the art of singing. But beyond the techniques that you have sharpened, there is in your voice a sorrow that has drawn me. Please tell me that this sorrow you bear is real, and not an act. You affected me more than you can ever know. I would like to hear that my emotions were drawn by an honest lure. Tell me that your voice is more than melody. Tell me it is a soul that I hear.
I absolutely agree with you that that for certain kinds of music it is very important to create the right atmosphere to be able to understand the feelings inside of it. Of course it is even more important to create such an atmosphere when I sing and interpret a tune with as much passion as possible. Music is for me a kind of valve where I can let of all the pain I feel inside of me sometimes. While I sing a tune I really forget the world around me and only the tune becomes reality. Some people act out their feelings and sorrows by aggressions or sports, but music is my way to deal with this. For me sad and depressive music is the best way for this; in opposite to the common opinion that depressive music makes a person depressed. I think that it is the best form of music to get ride of those negative thoughts. In contrary happy, commercial music makes me depressive, because it is just a fake mask in front of a crying face.

I only have “In Darkness Let Me Dwell” – but I crave everything that has your voice. Your voice is beauty. If only I could remain in your spell forever. You take me away from time. So now I ask if there is anything else that I can buy. Everything that you have done I want to own. I would pay with my life if that is the price, so long as I could hear you as I die. I have written in a secret place that if there is a funeral service for me, it is your music that must be played while I lay in the casket. Even those who hate me would be made to weep. So tell me, what can I buy from you that I do not already have?
Sorry but for now there is only one DVKE CD existing where I sing.

After repeated listening, I was able to open up the CD booklet to discover what the lyrics were. I had not done this earlier because your voice was all that mattered to me – and of course your music was too intense for me to sit and read along. So I read the lyrics when the music was not playing, and I fell into deeper admiration for you when I learned your words. Let me cite some for the readers of this interview: “The color from the flower is gone, which, like thy sweet eyes, smiled on me. The odor from the flower is flown, which breathes of thee and only thee. A withered, lifeless, vacant form – it lies on my abandoned breast and mocks the heart which yet is warm, with cold and silent rest. I weep, my tears revive it not. I sigh, it breathes no more on me. Its mute and uncomplaining lot is such as mine should be.” How fitting for me to read this, for you did not intend for me to fall in love with you, but that is what I feel, and although your voice is my heaven, love for you is also painful for me to bear, and I envy stones and anything barren of thought, for they can never carry the woes now laid upon me.
I agree with you that the words from the song “On A Fade Violet” are really amazing and touched my heart very much. These words are from Percy Bysshe Shelley. By the way. Shelley died in the same place in Italy where I am going to spend my next holidays in a few weeks. I wouldn’t describe me as a poet, but as a musician so I need the help of talented poets to create the right symbiosis between music and lyrics.

In the CD booklet there are no lyrics for “From Silent Night” – is it possible to obtain them?
This time the lyrics are from “Downland” who was a lute-song composer of the Renaissance and also wrote the lyrics for his songs.

There is yet another trait of yours that binds my heart to you. You were also born in Czechoslovakia, and like me, you also moved to a new country while very young. Do you permit me to dream that you and I will both return to our homeland and be wed? Yes, I know it is a dream, and I will hear your lyrics in a special way because of this dream of mine. “Oh sweet love, help her hands.” Or am I the dying Tristan? “Grief, alas, though all in vain, her restless anguish must reveal. She alone my wound shall know… though she will not heal.”
I have never heard such compliments before. I am confused and abashed.

King Diamond

This interview with King Diamond was conducted by Bill Zebub in issue #10.

I interviewed Glen Benton, from Deicide for this issue. He was not very happy with you. I tried to calm him down. He thinks that when you spoke of Deicide in the past that…
What does he keep on about that for? I’ve NEVER spoken about Deicide in ANY fuckin’ way. I don’t know where he got that from. I never talk about any bands. Everybody pretty much knows that by now. The only time I’ve ever in my entire career stagged a band, which was a mutually-agreed for-fun things, was with Venom back in God-knows-when… ‘84 or ‘85. Cronos and I went at it, just for press. That was the only time ever in my career that I stagged a band.

I told him that you would never ever make fun of them or say anything just to be negative about them, because that’s not your way. You’re not really negative about anyone.
I never have done that. I think doing that is unprofessional. I’ve always been of the conviction that it doesn’t matter what kind of music, what kind of lyrics, whatever the hell you do is your own private thing. As long as, I’d say, one person buys an album released, there’s a good purpose for that album because hopefully you made that one person happy, or that person got some entertainment out of it. And that’s what we’re doing. We’re entertainers. We’re here to try to entertain other people. That’s always been my conviction.

Yeah. I told him, as far as I am concerned, I tried to ask you about them. But you told me that you had never heard their music.
I haven’t. And there’s MANY bands that I haven’t heard. And the reason for that… I’ve also explained that to you a couple of times… I’m not very much on top of what goes on in the music business at the moment. That could be a good and bad thing. That means that I’m not influenced by anything anybody else does today. But again, it might be nice to know what’s going on. My personal interest in music, if I had to listen to it at home, is like progressive heavy rock bands from 1970 up through 1976. I collect those Cd’s, you know… all kinds of obscure bands. It’s always been my Interest. I have a huge collection of bands from that time.

Well, just to put a final cap on it, he DID admit that he knows the press invents things like that.
I have seen things invented, man, from here to hell and back… about me. I’ve DIED a couple of times. (laughs). The weirdest things can be mentioned sometimes, especially when… like, we’ve done a couple of pretty, say, in-depth interviews where you’ve ALWAYS been correct In referencing what I’m saying. But It has happened sometimes when you get into depth with somebody, one word can switch the entire meaning of the interview around. One word, misprinted. Instead of a ‘no’ or a ‘I think so’ or ‘I don’t think so…” after you have explained a lot of things, and then there’s another question, and you sit there and read it, it’s like that makes absolutely NO sense! After all the stuff I’ve said then comes this question and then I’m supposed to have said that? I would never say that? It’s completely out of context. That’s the danger. But it happens all .the time. It’s nothing new. There’s nothing you can do anything about. And you’ve got to do interviews and stuff no matter what. If you want to sit there in a little shelf at home and say, “I don’t want to do anything because people misunderstand me” you’re not going to get anywhere. That is the same for I guess everybody who is just a little bit In the spotlight somewhere. God! They’ll make up a story if there is none.

Anton LaVey didn’t want to do interviews anymore because he was always taken out of context. just look at that dumb-ass Geraldo show…
Geraldo Rivera sent a crew to Florida to do an interview with us. I spoke to this guy for 45 minutes. They filmed all the time while I was putting on make-up and doing this interview at the same time. And there was not enough sensationalism in what I said for them to use it on the show where they had all these shadows standing behind screens, telling how they had sold their babies for Satanic rituals and bullshit like that… I got 5 seconds on the air where I said some line about something, and he said, ‘Bull’ and that was it. They had shot 45 minutes. They showed 5 seconds because he couldn’t use it for anything. That’s not what his show was built around. And it happens all the time. You do this because you feel you know what you’re talking about and you would like to explain it to these people who you already know have a total misconception of what’s going on, so It’s nice to enlighten not really them, but the people that watch them. Then to get that kind of stuff where everything is totally manipulated for whatever purpose they need it for.. you have no control. It’s like, do it live, or don’t do it… that type of TV stuff.

The key to all this is, if, in an interview you appear to be ridiculing or Insulting anyone, it’s pure flction… that you would never say anything like that.
I would never. I never have. As I said, I have done it once with Venom. But that’s after meeting Cronos. “We started saying, ‘We should slag each other in the press. That gives them a lot to write about. We’d get,God, five times the press.” And we did It, just for the fuck of it, to see what would happen. I was sending Christmas regards to ‘Cron-AIDS’ and he was “King Billy” and all kinds of shit. While all that happened, we were partying in a hotel in Holland. But for real, I would never slag anything, and it doesn’t matter what kind of music either. For me to say, ‘Ah, country sucks, hardcore” well, country artists sell millions of albums. How can I say that it sucks when so many people like it? It might not be what I listen to at home. But that doesn’t mean that the music sucks. Like jazz… I don’t listen to any jazz whatsoever. I’ve been to a jazz club twice with some of the Metallica guys in London. That was an experience, you know. I was surprised. It was actually interesting to sit and watch those musicians go at it because they know their shit, usually. But it’s not something that I could sit and have a good time with at home. I hate the sound of a saxophone. That gives me the creeps. I don’t know why. But that instrument, in my book, should not have been invented. But then again, other people like it. That’s one thing that doesn’t have anything to do with a band.

Are you aware of all the Mercyful Fate tribute albums coming out?
There is one, right?

There Is one on “Listenable Records.” There is a man in Poland putting out a tribute. And I know that Odin, from Moribund, wanted to approach someone, maybe at Metal Blade. But you have the rights to all the songs that are on album. So maybe he will approach you and ask you.
It’s up to the record labels, you know, really… and the publishers, because we have the contracts with them and they are the ones that will legally have to take care of those types of things anyway. I can’t say to anybody, “Oh go for it, man. just go.” Then I would be breaking the contract I have with the publisher or the record labels. But it would probably be Roadrunner Records and Metal Blade Records who are involved. They could contact the publishers. I don’t think it’s a big deal. I don’t think anybody says, ‘Don’t. No. You can’t do that.”

The one on Listenable Records is out in the mail to me, and one of your label-mates, Immolation, did a song. Besides that, Ancient, which is also on your label, did a cover of “Black Funeral.’ Usurper did a cover of “Black Funeral.’ They’re on Necropolis Records. So how does it feel to get so much support from the bands of these days who recognize the power of Mercyful Fate?
It’s killer. It’s definitely killer. It’s an honor to be able to TODAY influence people to start a band and go for it with music that was done when they were born, pretty much. That’s a huge honor, I think. They probably didn’t listen to us back In ‘82 or ‘83. But some of those songs are the ones that they cover now and pay tribute to. That’s a major honor, man. It doesn’t even matter how it sounds. It’s the thought and the mind behind It that counts. It doesn’t matter if they present ‘Black Funeral” as death metal, growly version… it doesn’t even matter. It’s the thought behind it, and that they’re doing it.

Immolation has been listening to you since the early days. But I was talking with Ross and we were both laughing at how tricky the albums “Don’t break the Oath’ and ‘Melissa’ were. There are some parts in there, he was saying, the bass goes lower while the guitar goes higher, and then they reverse. That’s very strange. And just the timing of certain parts of songs were not able to be recreated.
We do it still today. And it’s not even a thing… we never really sat down and “God. We gotta have more complex shit on this album.” It’s always from within. It doesn’t feel complex to us. We realize of course, “Wow, this is really working great when you do all these strange things.” But it always has to be able to pass right by people who are not into complexity in the music. It has to still have the drive and the feel without you being disturbed by the tricky parts. That’s the trick of being able to do that. And that can only be done if you do it naturally and don’t think too much about what you’re actually doing. You’ve probably heard many bands that will force complexity into the music, and it seems Stiff.

You don’t come off as pretentious, and a lot of the tricky parts are known only after a couple of listens. You sit down and you say to yourself, ‘Wait minute. What the hell are they doing?
Sometimes I fool myself. I remember clearly when I was writing “Eye of the Witch,” just sitting there fooling around with the keyboard. “OK. That’s cool. Let me try to put some drums on it so I can start working around it with keyboards and start recording some of this stuff.” and just trying to set up the drum machine, I had a HELL of a time. I couldn’t figure out what the hell was going on. And I was humming this shit and playing it on keyboard and it was as straight as could be. It turned out that it was added one-fourth measure somewhere every round. So the drum machine just would not pick it up unless I totally re-programmed it. Playing the rhythm guitar to it felt very awkward, actually… until you got the hang of it. We have that today, still. There’s quite a few songs on the new King Diamond album that I wrote, Andy was just like, “What the fuck is that? I can’t even grasp what it is. You gotta show me.”But I also use a lot of weird chords… strange chords. I like to use, even though it sounds like the guitars are playing the same from side-to-side, they might be playing very different. One might be playing chords. The other will play single notes. Together, they create a certain sound. Sometimes these octave chords create other types of sounds. It’s a matter of a certain feel I want out of a riff. You can write it in many different ways, and not just have the two guitars playing the same rhythm and then add a harmony. A lot of it is right there. There’s some of those things where, Andy has come up… we’ve been sitting here before actually, going into the studio and just going through my songs so he knew exactly what I’d done, because he was listening to 4-track tapes and some of it he couldn’t pick out. Then I see him do these crazy cryptic chords to cover all the notes that were in something. Then I’m like, “No no. There’s two guitars playing a different role.’” “Damn, I couldn’t hear that.’ On that new King Diamond, I feel, and that’s also what I’ve heard from some people, even some fans that are hardcore King Diamond fans, that it sounds a lot like going back to the earlier King Diamond albums… Abigail, Them, in the aggression and the complexity of the songs, and the use of massive vocals again, which hasn’t really been that prominent in the last two albums, but is really back again this time, but still sounding new. It probably has to do with the production as well, I think. And no one dies on this album. No. Isn’t that weird? But they don’t have a good time though. That’s for sure.

Last time that I talked to you, you mentioned that Robert Plant and Brian Adams are fans.
Well, yeah. Brian Adams showed up at one of our concerts in Boston. He said he was blasting it on his tour bus and the rest of the band hated it, and he did it anyway. Robert Plant… yeah, that was our sound engineer that met him at a show they played in Denver the night before we were playing there. I wanted to see it because I’m a huge fan of his. But I had to take care of some other business. So there was no chance for me to go there. But our sound engineer came back and said, ‘Oh yeah, he’s playing old Mercyful Fate and King Diamond on the bus.” So it’s very nice to know that kind of stuff. I know Robert Halford enjoys what we’re doing too, and a lot of other people too…. Motorhead, after all the tours we’ve done with them. And you get surprised all the time. Pantera is divided into two camps, almost. (laughs) You know Vinny and Darrel really like King Diamond more than Mercyful Fate. But they also like Mercyful Fate a lot. Phil is a big-time Mercyful Fate fan, but also enjoys King Diamond too. I wish we could go out and tour with them. That would be a killer show.

I have always insisted that the “Melissa’ album, even though it’s so old, sounds fresh to people who hear it for the first time these days. The proof of that is on my radio show. Even when I fill in for another D.J. when I would not play metal at all and then all-of-a-sudden throw on “Satan’s Fall’ or “Melissa,’ I always get a call and am asked, “Who is this?’ and “’Can I get It in a music store?” People think it’s new! I’m just so sad that when that album came out it didn’t get proper promotion, in my eyes.
Yeah… it was the early days of a band starting, and the label growing… and all this stuff. Definitely finances played a big role in where they could take it. There wasn’t even a U.S. tour for that album. It was not until the “Don’t Break the Oath” album that we finally got to the States. But now all these things have been re-issued by Roadrunner, which I think is a good thing because the sound quality has been improved a little bit. They’ve been remastered and the volume is up, as pounding as anything else you put on, whereas the old master versions… some of the 9 db below what you do today as the standard because that was the early days of the CD. So they’ve been given a nice face-lift, without taking the feel away at all. There’s some interesting bonus tracks on some of that stuff, especially the King Diamond stuff. It has some really crazy bonus tracks that we’ve found.

I like the ones on the Abigail album… the rough mixes.
Yeah, it’s pretty cool. I was blown away when I heard it the first time. It was like, ‘God Damn! There’s vocals on this that we didn’t put on the album.’ That is pretty wild. Some choirs were exchanged with a cello part, and stuff like that. Some third harmonies had been taken away. So it was just 2-harmony pieces. The third harmony was maybe a little extreme. But it’s cool when you hear it again.

I know that project was pressed for time, and you had some bonus tracks in mind that could not arrive by the deadline, among which were an instrumental cover of ‘Immigrant Song.’
Yeah. We actually DID look for it. But the studio had closed down. It didn’t exist anymore. That was something I learned in the past year, actually. I remember trying for it. But we never did finish that song. We didn’t feel that the basic tracks sounded like Led Zeppelin. It sounded a little stiff. But the tracks would probably still be there somewhere. There just wouldn’t be any vocals on it. We never got that far.

Is it true that you were offering an album with many rarities like this in the future because some of the things you were searching for could not make the deadline?
Well, there’s a limit. We also contacted the record label that would be in possession of some master tapes in Holland. THEY were pressed for time. They didn’t have time to look for these things. Usually we would be storing the things at the studio because they had the best facility. Those early studios that we recorded the early King Diamond albums in, they don’t exist. We were told by a guy that was involved with them that those tapes would have all have been sent to the record label when the studio closed down. We had immediately told them that that was what the studio people had said. But still, they didn’t come up with anything. They didn’t have time to look for it. They didn’t know where to locate them. That’s what happens.

There is a live album, the Abigail album… but I know that you are in possession of soundboard recordings of early Mercyful Fate shows. Have you ever considered putting out a live Mercyful Fate album with the material you have?
No. It doesn’t seem like it has a quality that is up to where you would want it. It has too many drop-outs. Yeah, it might be fun for some fans to listen to. Oh yeah, here the guitar totally dropped out. They must have had some problems with the power. But it’s not up to the level where it should be.

I have heard a ‘Black Rose” song… ‘Evil Lord.’ I don’t know if you remember that.
No. That’s not a title we ever had.

Really?
There was another band that released albums under the name “Black Rose’ after we even stopped the band. I don’t even know where that band was from, actually. I think they did maybe two albums. I never heard it.

Maybe I will send this to you to actually confirm its authenticity. But it’s only one song. I remember when I was talking to you, you said you had ten tracks of that band.
Yeah.

Did you ever consider giving that to Metal Blade for an album?
Yeah. It might happen some day. It’s interesting to hear where it started. That’s the interesting part – you can hear the voice not being completely developed at that time… not using a lot of falsetto… here and there there is a little bit. It’s pretty good quality. We recorded it on one of these 2-track recorders… just with these big reel tapes. But it sounds pretty good just for recording in a rehearsal room. You hear us talking Danish and all sorts of shit in between songs… people fucking around. But I think it has ten original songs and our version of “Radar Love.’

Whatever happened to Pete Black? I know that he was In trouble for stealing King Diamond equipment.
I think some of it was given back. He might still have some of it. That was never resolved with lawyers and shit. It just went out in the sand. But he had another band called ‘Totem’ or something like that. I really don’t know what has come of it. I have never seen an album come out from him. I know he’s very involved in… I wouldn’t say “anti-drug.. but anti-drinking. In Sweden he’s doing lectures for alcoholics. He had a problem at the time he was in the King Diamond band, especially with drinking. It was not so much that he was always wasted out of his mind. It was not like that at all. But the problem was that when he did drink too much he totally lost control of himself and got so mean that he was trying to hurt everyone and everything around him. It was a real problem for him, and he obviously grabbed that by the horns and got rid of that problem completely. I don’t think he’s had a drink for years now. But I don’t talk to him, you know. It’s just something I hear from Andy… might have run into him in Sweden or something like that. So I don’t have any contact with him at all. But I know that he’s lecturing on that subject and is very hardcore against it.

I see… LaVey passed away October 29th. There was a rumor spread by someone that he kicked you out of his apartment. But the truth of the matter was that you were on a friendly level. In fact, he endorsed you, and only you, In one particular biography.
Oh yeah. I still have handwritten letters from him that I hold very dear. I have photos of me and him at the Church. But that’s another thing about me… the way that I am. He told me after I met him at the Church, “Whenever you want to call me, it doesn’t matter If It’s day or night, you can call me if you just want to talk about Satanism or anything. It doesn’t matter.” I wrote him a letter thanking him for inviting me to the Church and put some other pointers in there to get a copy of some of the photos that he had taken when I was there, and he sent them back to me with a letter. I have a couple of letters that he later on mailed me. I had been moving many times since as well. But It was a very unique 2-way experience, a lot of mutual respect coming from that meeting. You definitely see that in his letters too. I remember in that one letter he sent me that he would have liked for me and Zena (editor’s note – Lavey’s lovely daughter) go a little further than we had done. We went on a couple of dates and just had a good time and stuff like that. But he would’ve really liked that to develop. That’s certainly an endorsement from somebody.

Yeah. I heard that the man Zena ended up with was sort of rebellious against LaVey.
Yeah. That’s what I heard too. I don’t like to take advantage of situations. I didn’t want to be the kind of person “Oh man. I’ve met LaVey, and I’m going to call him every Sunday or every Friday and just chit-chat and bullshit.” I just don’t like taking advantage of situations. I never have. I’d rather keep it at a certain level… a higher level of respect maintained.

That’s one thing that I’ve admired, because there are people who are using the fact that they’ve had contact with LaVey, or that they are card-carrying members of the Satanic Church, and they use it as a sort of band promotion. But you’ve never used it that way.
I have a special experience that I will never forget… spending the entire night at the Church there and actually being invited into the ritual chamber which had been locked off for two and a half years at that time, re-energizing. Only he had been in that room, and he let me in there. That’s where we talked for probably an hour and a half, and that was an experience I will never forget. Never. I would never want that to be put into a promotional buy for a record label. That was a very private moment, and I wouldn’t be able to give it the credit it deserves anyway in words. It was an inner feeling that can’t be described. So there would be no reason to try and use it for anything like that. He never interviewed me in any specific way for this or that. When I met him for the first time, he had kept tabs on us a while, he said. That’s why he invited me to come down there. I knew about him and I knew about his Church in San Francisco. But I had never imagined that suddenly there would be somebody at one of our shows saying that we had a personal invitation from LaVey. ‘… If you would like to come there tonight after the show.” I certainly like that very much. That would be very interesting. What it really meant to me was, I had read the Satanic Bible at that time and felt I could really relate to a lot of what was in there. What I actually went down to the Church to do was to, for myself, to confirm that this was not a guy who wrote a book just for the fuck of it, but that this was actually a guy who had meant what he had written in there, and felt what he’d written in that book… to make sure for myself that this was not a phony. And that I certainly had confirmed so heavily by being there and by meeting the person and talking a long time in complete privacy. So that was a very unique experience that I will never forget. I’m not promoting the Church in a conscious way. I write whatever comes to mind, whatever I feel is important to me to write about in the lyrics. Usually, King Diamond Is a full concept horror story, and it is again about voodoo, and it delves in the real heavy side of the voodoo religion, not just the sticking little pins in dolls and shit like that. It just fascinated me what is in that religion and how it’s looked upon, and then creating a whole scenario to try and do a suspense kind of horror. It could almost be a movie. That’s always the way I look at it. This time it’s taken a little further on the album. You can see all the characters painted on little tarot cards so you can relate a little more to these people because you know what they look like now. There’s a map of the surroundings where it takes place. It gives the listener a whole different experience. We never have done that before. We’ve always left it up to people’s imagination to picture how this person looks like. It gives even me a cool perspective because even though I had them in my mind, the artist that did the cover artwork for this album did an unbelievable job. I believe it’s the best artwork we’ve had ever. It’s just so good to sit and look at. (returning attention back to the lyrics) It has a lot of what Satanism’s all about… humanism, you know. It has a lot of that… how people interact with each other… and feelings… how you feel when you do this and that to another person. That’s always something that I’ve been very interested in. The Mercyful Fate album that’s called “Dead Again,’ it’s very much back to the roots. It’s an extremely heavy album. Killer sound. It’s got the longest song that I’ve ever done in my career. There’s a 13 minute and 24 song second. It’s more In the vein of the old Mercyful Fate. If I feel like saying the word “Satan’ in a song, well, I’ll say it, or I’ll say “Lucifer” or whatever the hell. It doesn’t matter. And it’s there several times. It seems a bit more free, not thinking too much of what is this person or that person going to think about this and that… are they going to misunderstand this, or what? If they haven’t got it by now, they won’t get it. (laughs) So to hell with it.

I was at one of your shows with an issue that had Ernie from Sesame Street… I don’t know if you are familiar with him. But he was crucified in place of Jesus on the cover. I was surrounded by security guards and the owner of the club who ejected me, saying that he didn’t want that kind of stuff in his concert hall because the patrons would be offended. And I asked, “Do you know who King Diamond is? How can any of his fans be offended by this?’ So I ended up handing the magazine out on the corner anyway.
When I got it I took it to the studio of course. Everybody was just laughing their ass off so hard. It was so fucking cool, man.

But there are plenty of idiots out there. I regret I don’t have a copy of the new Mercyful Fate album. (Advance tapes were not available). By the time this hits, people will be anticipating.
Yeah. Well what can I say? I personally think also that it’s some of the strongest compositions we’ve ever had. We feel so strongly about it. That’s also from hearing from those few people who have heard it.

Has anything changed with the actual tone of the guitar?
Not a bit, man. Hank is using the same guitar. He’s using the same amps and shit like that that we recorded Don’t Break the Oath on. But there’s an improvement in the overall sound on this album, and that’s got to do with the studio. They had a brand new mixing desk in there. They got new tape recorders for us. And one thing is that the studio was rebuilt two years ago, I think, and all wiring is top-line cables everywhere. Everything worked in the studio. Everything had the clearest cleanest signal I have ever experienced. And that was actually something that was totally new for me, to actually go into the recording room where all the amps and shit was said up… hearing the sound in there, and then go into the control room hearing the same tone… that was amazing to me. Usually it takes a little while to set the microphone up the right distance, and then flnd the right speaker in the cabinet that sounds the way you want it to sound. Each speaker will sound completely different depending on how far away and how you anchor it to that speaker, and all this shit…. you can get so many different sounds. But it came within an hour. And that amazed the shit out of me. So we’ve gotten the real sound now.. the real guitar sound. You can still recognize it as the one from Don’t Break the Oath. It just sounds better, bigger, fuller. You only had so-and-so amount of frequencies in the early days. Now you get the whole frequency of that guitar, actually.

If the album has a similar approach to the old days, the drums of the old days… seemed, because of the reverb on the toms, almost like war drums in the distance. I’ve noticed that the drums of new Mercyful Fate are more up-front… more like a “small room’ feel rather than a big cavern or a valley between two mountains. What is the equalization and the reverb of the new drums? The drums sound completely different.
We never had such a good drum sound as we have on this Mercyful fate album We didn’t have to fight in any way. It came so quick. That’s the scary part about it. That was again… you were in a room with mikes that actually captured that right sound. You don’t have to sit and fuck around with 800 different microphones and still think “God man! That snare sounds so weak!” We got a big fat sound on the entire drum kit immediately. And we didn’t use very much EQ on anything. It’s very much the natural sound In the room that comes across. The drums are very powerful, and Bjarne Is playing better than ever. There’s some complex shit in there, and he’s just all over that kit in a very good way. I don’t think I’ve ever played with anyone that put down drums that well. Bjarne can be proud of what he laid down on tape this time. And his kit does sound killer. And his kit has always sound killer. But this time It just came through the whole way.

Is he the same drummer from Hank Sherman’s project, which was simply called “Fate?”
Yeah. He goes so much further back. He was the flrst drummer approached by Hank when Hank and I started Mercyful Fate. But he was busy in another project, playing some progressive… Emerson, Lake, and Palmer style of music. And he didn’t want to let those guys down. So he had to pass. Then we found Kim Ruzz instead.

He is a mailman now.
Yeah. (laughs)

Someone remarked to me that the musicians who play for you… It’s a very close-knit family, and very related to old days.
It certainly Is. Mike Wead is the, you can say… the new guitarist recording. But he’s been playing with the band for quite a while now because Michael Denner has been… I would say, slowly retiring over the last couple of years. It started out with the U.S. tour where he couldn’t really get off and his wife was pregnant. He was expecting his flrst child. Then he got married in between the U.S. tour and the European tour we did in the Spring last year. There he was not really able to go out and do the full tour because his wife had just had a baby and there were some small complications which have been totally rectified. There’s no problem at all. He was a little scared of her condition. So he didn’t want to go out for a longer time. He said, ‘I can go out and do the flrst ten shows, maybe. And then Mike Wead can come in and take over again.’ That was not good for us and would be totally unprofessional, and not fair to Mike Wead nor the fans. It would be double work for us. You rehearse all the songs in the set before the tour, and then what? Mike Wead suddenly comes flying In and, ‘OK, here are the songs we are playing.’ Then we have to build up that tightness feel. It was just not working out that way. Nobody can live with that, and he understood that totally. Then we pretty much made the decision for him and said, “It’s probably time that you retire.” And he said, ‘Yes. I guess that’s exactly what I am looking for.’ So, of course, we are the very closest of friends still. That will never change. But, for Mercyful Fate, It was a good move because we now have a guy that is committed 200%. No matter what it takes, he’ll be there, where Michael Denner had a lot of circumstances that made it impossible for him to commit himself that much. Mike Wead had done a full U.S. tour and a full European tour, and that’s when we decided that it’s probably best because then Michael Denner might fly in and do the album and then he might not be able to do the next tour and maybe he’ll do the tour after that down the road… we couldn’t live with that. We needed a stable and very firm line-up that we could trust the whole way and know we can always count on. It’s been a great transition because Mike Wead was actually suggested as the stand-in for Michael Denner on that first U.S. tour. Michael Denner said, ‘That guy, I guarantee you, he can play my solos maybe even better than I can these days.” He has that Schenkar feel that Michael Denner has, and at the same time has that modern touch whenever that’s needed. In total respect he learned Michael Denner’s solos note-for-note. That’s the way it should be. So many of Michael Denner solos are very memorable, and you expect to hear those certain notes when you listen to the band live. That’s why It was so cool that Mike just went in and copied them. It was like ‘Some day I’ll get my chance to do my own solos.’ And that’s what he’s done on this new album. And sometimes it sounds like Michael Denner. It’s scary. Sometimes it’s a different style, which is great. It’s Mike Wead.

Metal bands demonstrate humor

You may have heard that some bands promote the pussification of metal. like BENIGHTED, which some people call “Be-Nutted” – but the following video shows metal people who have no fear of humor.

Please support bands that promote independence, not conformity and cowardice.

Pussification
Pussification

Therion

interview with Christofer Johnsson conducted by Bill Zebub for issue #31 of THE GRIMOIRE OF EXALTED DEEDS magazine

 

You may not remember this, but many years ago I interviewed you for the first issue of this magazine. Back then it was just a fanzine that was photocopied and stapled in the corner. I will again ask you the very first question that I have ever asked you to see if your answer is different, and then we’ll get on to the serious interview. Are you ready?

Yes.

 

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

A fart.

 

Yes! That was the same answer, so now I know that you are an honest person. In the early days there were some cover songs that appeared on albums, like the Judas Priest cover. When I saw your show at BB King’s, one of the encores were  Mercyful Fate’s “Black Funeral.” Did you ever record “Black Funeral” in the studio?

We never recorded it.

 

There was an Orff cover on one of the albums. I was wondering if you were ever tempted to do something in the same vein from Strauss, like “Biem Shlafengehen” or the Commendatore finale song from “Don Giavanni.”

Anybody can do classical covers, but the most  interesting thing is to break new ground. 

 

In America there are television commercials for a breakfast cereal simply called “Shredded Wheat.” On one side there’s frosting and on the other side there isn’t. The commercials show that people are divided. Some people like the sugary side and others like the unfrosted side. Same thing with beer. Half of the country supposedly likes it because it tastes great. The other half likes it because it’s less filling. Those people probably like the unfrosted side, but I doubt that people carve their breakfast bits in half. In Therion, I personally prefer the opera over the prog side.

That’s very gay. I caught you.

 

(In total shock) That’s so funny. You insulted me before I insulted you!

Well I’m gay too. We can go to Denmark and get married. It’s legal there. (pause) But it’s  interesting that people in metal actually prefer that side. We make the classical and the opera more accessible because they don’t really have, for lack of better words, the capacity to go deep into all of this musical information that some opera contains. If you listen to a metal album, or rock, or pop, or whatever – there’s a couple of riffs in each song – and it doesn’t really contain much musical information. You can pretty much judge the album by one listening if it’s a regular rock album. If it’s a metal album than you can judge by a few listenings.  But even a very short song in opera contains so much more musical data than, let’s say, five or six metal albums. A lot of people don’t really have the energy, or whatever, to actually take the time it requires to penetrate  the surface and go deep into this sort of music. So what we do is actually a shortcut that, because we have the rock structure with classical content as well. It’s a shortcut to opera and classical, which is very convenient for people. Maybe they could like a few highlights. They might buy a CD with Ride of the Valkyrie or some highlight part from an Italian opera, but they wouldn’t sit and listen to opera for a few hours. I think that we’re filling a function for people who could be potentially really interested. So we can start stuff with this, and if they get really enthusiastic they could find a way to more  sophisticated music.

 

You are the gateway to opera.

A few people might take the next step.

 

There was a very irritating record label publicist who said that every band that has female operatic vocals or orchestral instruments is influenced by Celtic Frost because they were the ones who apparently tried that first. 

I don’t really think that bands these days pay homage to such distant albums. You shouldn’t underestimate what Celtic Frost did. Into the Pandemonium – you have The Gathering, Therion, Tiamat, Paradise lost – all with Celtic Frost influence. We, in our turn, influenced other bands. So we can say that they (Celtic Frost) are indirectly influencing this whole wave. But on the other hand, what did they get their influences from? Everything comes from somewhere.

 

 

Have you heard Elend?

Yeah. A very long time ago somebody made me a cassette. They’re French, aren’t they?

 

French. Austrian. One of the members of Korovakill is in it. If you heard the right album, it’s a blue album (the re-release with bonus tracks is red). Instead of bringing operatic vocals and orchestral instruments into metal, they brought death metal vocals into opera. But these days they don’t have the death metal vocals anymore.

That’s a brilliant idea. But that’s precisely what I didn’t like about it. (The death metal vocals).  

 

When I listen to opera, I prefer the very dark opera. It’s vary sad. I was always hoping  that there would be that sort of opera presence in Therion, and I was wondering if there is any way for that to happen. I know that you are a live band and you like to create a certain mood for that. But could there be a song or two, not meant for live performance, that delves into the realms of sorrow?

There might be. But the thing is, the way that we write songs is very spontaneous. I’m hopelessly trapped with whatever I write. If someone said to me, “I’ll give you five million bucks if you write a ballad. You have a weekend. Here’s a  guitar.” I would write ballad, but it would be the most miserable piece of shit ballad you will ever hear in your life. That’s how it works. I cannot shit on command. I write what I write. It’s what I’m stuck with and what everyone else gets.

 

If there is a way for me to send you some music, hopefully on some level it will influence you.

Actually there is a lot of sad opera that I like. (editor’s note – We discussed opera, which to you would seem like an inside conversation. Rather than make you feel like an outsider, I edited this part out. I now bring you to the last part of that hidden conversation. Christof went on and on to praise a particular soprano opera  singer). She is the best singer in the history of recorded music.  

 

Well, by that reasoning, if she can turn shit into gold, and if you force yourself to write a sad opera song and it will be shit, then she should sing on it so that she turns your shit into gold.

(laughs) By the way, have you seen this movie “Holy Mountain?” That describes the modern culture so well. You know the scene – it’s like  everybody gets color on their butts and then they put it on paper – it’s mass-produced art.  

 

It’s so strange that you, being the kind of artist that you are, watched a movie by that kind of director.

Naked Lunch would be one of my favorite movies. Brasil too. Along with that I also like Nightmare Before Christmas.

 

A long time ago I did try to contact you to hopefully be able to send you some music, but the only Email address on the website is for the webmaster. There is some sort of explanation about that along the lines of, if any band member’s Email were to be  known, you would get overwhelmed.

That’s true. But it’s  usually not a problem  for people from the press to get it. ( editor’s update – After this interview, I asked the lazy twat at Nuclear Blast for the Email, and all I received were excuses for her not doing her job.  Eventually, the incompetence resulted in my severing ties from the American office of laziness)  If I gave my Email out  then I would have to  get a new one every month. I got so many  Emails every day. 

 

Were the Emails about penis enlargement?

I wish it was. It’s  more about boring questions like, “When will you come to my town?

 

In Sweden is penis size very important?

No. They’re all American companies who Email me.

 

I had heard that Sweden has even more concern about penis size and that  it has spread to veterinary science as well, with penis enlargement programs for dogs and  cats.

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

 

I did notice that there’s a tremendous  difference between the audience at a Therion show and a crowd that sees any other band, and that difference was the  extreme level of respect. It was also your respect toward the fans. I was told that you  did not want the usual barricade between  the fans and the stage. And the end of the  performance was the metal equivalent to a  standing ovation. Is that a common reaction throughout the world?

Yeah. We’re very spoiled. But I think that is  related to people having bought the records and  they had been waiting ever since. They never thought that we would come. For a lot of people  it was more than just a concert. It’s something  more special. The same thing happens in  Europe when we play countries we never had  before. Same thing with Latin America. We get  an explosive reaction. In many countries they  have a really tough life, so when people go to a  show they switch off their daily problems for a  while. It’s almost like a religion.

 

Your main opera singer – what is her  name? I hope you don’t take this the wrong  way, but the way she puts on make-up is  sort of the mistake that a little girl makes  when she puts on make-up for the first time  in her life. Is that the look that she was  going for?

She’s the only one who’s a trained opera singer so I told her to make something very theatrical.

 

Oh, so that’s why she walks on stage like  she’s a Gestapo officer patrolling the concentration  camp.

That is what is turning you on. (laughs) She  has nothing to do with metal. She doesn’t listen  to metal. She’s just doing her thing to our stuff.

 

There’s a blonde to the far right, if you  have the same set-up every night – I was  wondering if you could have her in the front  instead.

Well, that’s an idea.

 

She’s Swedish, right?

She’s Finnish but she lives in Sweden. We’re  going to sell tickets on the next tour to the back stage.

 

Can you let her know that I love her?

Yes, I will do that.

 

Some people say that Sweden is very conservative and some people say that it is very liberal.

Conservative? Are you fucking kidding? Our conservatives would be condemned as being too liberal. Ralph Nader would call our conservatives liberals.

 

I learned that when I ask someone about a country, it’s almost like asking someone in America what America is like. It’s not a true representation.

If you ask a communist, of course he will say  that we are conservative. But if ask someone who is somehow in the middle, politically, it is hilarious. We had a social democrat ruling this  country in the second world war. It’s like a one party state. But you have a one-party state too.  You just have two names for it. 

 

Actually, we are owned by Israel. (Editor’s note – for the new readers of this magazine, there is a lot of sarcasm and baiting.  I, in real life, know absolutely nothing about politics, and I don’t care.  I just use it to evoke.)

We were speaking of parties. Maybe they own the party. That’s maybe your opinion. 

 

No. I don’t know enough about politics to talk about it seriously.

You don’t need to know much. Just know the  fact that your choice is like buying Coca Cola or Pepsi. The difference between democrats and  republicans is that republicans piss in your face and they say. “Hey, we pissed in your face. We’re happy about that.” Democrats will piss in your face and if you ask them about they’ll say, “No, we never pissed in your face.”

 

You mentioned Cocoa Cola before. I have not verified this, but I have heard that in  France they have passed a law which protects  their language. On television they  cannot use non-French words, especially  slang, and the term “Cocoa Cola” is one of the no-no words. In direct opposite thinking, America, because it is so sales-driven, has allowed the most niggery language to be on TV.  People leave out verbs. It’s almost like hearing Tarzan talk. Poor grammar, nigger-slang, and simplified language.

The American version of English is now completely destroyed. We learn Oxford English in school.

 

Is Sweden protecting its language?

Protect the Swedish language? Are you kidding?  That would be racist!

 

Yes, Snowy Shaw and I had a conversation about how the Swedes are pussies.

Yeah, I read that. Those things you cannot say in Sweden. I showed that interview to a band and they thought that Snowy is joking. If you do that interview in a Swedish magazine then your career is over.

 

In America it’s very trendy to think of the French as pussies, but I look at them as heroes. The French deserve respect for  standing up for their culture. 

I’m very conservative when it comes to things like culture. A lot of things are better these days, but I don’t understand why you have to ruin everything from the past. A lot of liberal  ideas are very good, like equal rights for women.  And in interracial marriage, it’s up to people what they want to do with their lives and if they want to have those kinds of kids. But there comes a  point when you fulfill the  rights of minorities and  start to go in the other way.

 

We’re in the other end  of the swing.

In Sweden we completely crossed that line a long long  time ago, and maybe that’s  the reason why we went  from being #1 to… (editor’s note – I laugh so loudly that I cannot  hear the rest of that sentence)

 

I’m sorry, you made me laugh.

What else can you do  about it?

 

“Lucid Dreaming” was  an album that I had to  buy because it was at that time that I found out  that what I had experienced  actually had a  term, and that other people  had similar dreams.  Many years later a girl I  know interviewed you  and she said that you had  out of body experiences.  Is that true?

That’s correct.

 

What came first with  you, the lucid dreaming  or the out of body experiences?

The astral projection came  first

 

Was this something that you learned or something  that happened accidentally  when you were  falling asleep?

It happened accidentally. It has happened to  many people who have had their first out of  body experiences that they are in their room outside of their bodies. Actually, I didn’t even look  at my body. I was looking through the window, and was drawn outside, out over the woods. And I had a very strange feeling that I can’t really  explain these colors.

 

You are able to induce these now.

Yeah.

 

Did you learn that on your own?

I’ve been a member of the Order of the Dragon  for some years now. They collect ideas and  develop techniques.

 

When I found out that my lucid dreams had a name, I discovered a scientist, Stephen  LaBerge, and he had developed techniques, and one night I actually had three lucid  dreams in a row. It was crazy. But prior to  having had experienced lucid dreams, I had  thought that out of body experiences were  a hoax.

Very easy to think that if you are a rational person  and if you never had that.

 

Right, but there are parallels between  lucid dreams and out of body experiences.  In fact, lucid dreams are the perfect launch  pad to out of body experiences.

That’s actually how I most often do it. I usually  find a gate, like a mirror or window, and I project  through that.

 

Lucid dreaming, to me, is a purely mental  phenomenon because although I am aware that I am  dreaming within the dream and  I control everything around me,  it is still a dream. Do you think that an out  of body an actual phenomenon in which your awareness somehow  extends beyond your body,  or is it a mental state?

When I thought about the matter, whether it is internal or external, it doesn’t really make a difference.  So I haven’t really made up  my mind because the experience  remains the same.

 

In Sweden, do you have the  Christmas carol “Tis the  Season to Be Jolly?”

Yeah, we do. But our main songs are about the yule, which has nothing to do with Christianity.

 

In the song I asked about,  being that you are a musician, I  was oping that you could help  educate Americans. They are probably the most ignorant people in the world, judging from the interviews I have done with people all over the  world. Stupidity is our #1  export.

Your big companies don’t want  people to think. They want people to work for minimum wage and to  pay taxes and to consume a lot.  Here, we pay 33% in taxes but  hospitals are free. If you are  unemployed you get money that  you can actually live on, and so on and so on. 

 

Americans are not interested in  the rest of the world, and for those  that are interested, they look at  the worlds thinking it’s the same as it is here (editor’s note – I meant that Americans generally cannot accept that other people think in different ways and that other cultures have different attitudes).

It’s really bad that your education system is that way because that makes people that  much more unable to have opinions about international affairs. There are a lot of similarities with the Roman empire. You can  see a lot of degeneration in empires that are  falling, but it won’t be a few centuries. Here we are talking about only a few decades, maximum.  You import a lot more than you export.  And there’s a lot of loans. You consider yourself  the richest country on the planet, which is correct on paper, but if all the international investment would be withdrawn from the United States…

 

Interesting. But if you look at America’s capital city, it looks like a third world country.  Washington D.C. But getting back to the “Tis the Season to be Jolly” – the end of that song is “fa la la la la la la la la.” I would like  you to tell me the notes of the major scale of C.

I am happily uneducated musician.

 

Really? It’s C -D -E- F- G- A -B -C.

I’m very thickheaded to learn things unless I am interested. If I am interested I learn very quickly. Notes and stuff like this is like learning Latin.

 

I will still ask you the question. The  scale that I just told you, in other countries is DO- RE- MI- FA- SO- LA- T-I DO.

Your B is called H in Germany.

 

Getting back to DO RE MI, when you sing  the fa la la la la, it should actually be the  notes F and A. But they’re not sung as F and A, and I would like to know if this is some sort of conspiracy.

But you can write a song any way you like. 

 

Certain things should not be intentionally  misinterpreted. You Wouldn’t have a guitar that is  shaped like a swastika, right?

Not on stage, but it would be fun to own one.  I‘d like one like a banana, and one with a hammer  and a sickle.

 

But you know what I mean. The swastika  is a cool symbol and it meant something else prior to world war two, and now if you see it you cannot remove the associations that define it.

If you were playing India it would be very popular.

 

It’s really not easy to interview you.

Well, you do not have an easy magazine.

 

But anyway, if I were to use FA and LA as  lyrics, I would make sure that they were sung in the right pitch! 

But music doesn’t need to follow rules. 

 

The Alphabet Song must also obey this  rule. When you sing A B C D E F G A B, do it in the right pitch. And what happened to  that word “god” being in the pledge of allegiance?  America is a theocracy! Do you, as  a Swede, see America as being too religious?

Yes. In Sweden only 2% of the population consider  themselves Christian.

 

You have heard of moslims (editor’s note – that is the correct speling of the word)who blow themselves up believing that they will be rewarded with virgins. Well first of all, if  you’re in the afterlife, you can’t do anything  with corporeal things. And even if you  could, why would you have sex with virgins.  They are not good in bed.

It’s not just a moslim concept. Christians  thought they would get rewarded if they died in  the Crusade

 

If you play in Israel, would you go on stage  with a backpack that has a lit fuse on the bottom?

That would be a pretty cool effect, but it wouldn’t be worth it.

 

Getting back to the moslim thing. I don’t think it’s really a good reward to be given  virgins. Virgins are terrible lovers. 

It’s much better to be a rock star (instead of a suicide bomber) because it’s very easy. You  don’t have to blow up yourself. Just learn how to  play guitar. But define “terrorism.” According to the term, the United States is a terrorist state. You bombed Iraq while there was no war declaration. If you don’t declare war and bomb the country, you’re a terrorist.

 

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

Ok, so you’re not responsible then.