You can show your support for Bill Zebub’s movie, or you can just buy the mug to drool over the sexy Lydia Lael who rides the shark – and yes, the movie prop really was that big!
You can show your support for Bill Zebub’s movie, or you can just buy the mug to drool over the sexy Lydia Lael who rides the shark – and yes, the movie prop really was that big!
Interview with Hellhammer conducted by Metal Monster for Issue #22
(Metal Monster): How do you like our beautiful city?
(Hellhammer): Oh well, it’s nicer than Brooklyn. I’ve been there before.
( Looking at Bill Zebub slouched against the alley wall) I think Bill Zebub is a little drunk.
(Looks Over at Bill) Oh yeah, he looks like it
Bill Zebub wanted me to interview you because apparently the two of you didn’t hit it off the last time he interviewed you. Do you remember that?
I remember that!
Bill wanted to do a more serious interview with you, and because I am such a big Mayhem fan, he asked me to do it. (pause) Have you ever tasted your own semen?
Do you prefer to be called Hellhammer or Jan?
It’s the same
Hey, didn’t you release a solo album?
You didn’t put out a solo album under the name Jan Hammer?
Yes, Jan Hammer?
Oh, Jan Hammer! No. (laughs)
Right, You know Jan Hammer right?
Yeah, I know Jan Hammer. Miami Vice. Among other things, He’s also a drummer and yeyboard player.
What happened with the new Mayhem album? A lot of Mayhem fans are very disappointed with it..
I heard that there were plans to change the name of the band because the new music was so different. I heard you were going to change the name of the band to “Gayhem”. Is that true?
Gayhem? Um, not likely, but in some parts we are labeled Gayhem.
Wasn’t the name of the new album going to be “Chainsawbuttsfuck?”
Chainsawbuttsfuck? Well that’s kind of for (Hellhammer says something undecipherable) and all that for Norway, so that’s all right.
Did you ever have sex with a kleptomaniac chink slut named Kim?
(Bill Zebubis brought back to reality by my question and laughs in his booming trademark Viking laugh)
(laughs) Not as far as I can remember no.
That girl has sticky fingers, if you know what I mean?
Sticky fingers, yeah.
Do oriental girls have yellow vaginas?
Mmm, Yes they have.
They do. I understand you are Jewish..
(Laughs) No, that’s not true!
Well, Seth Putnam from the band Anal Cunt told me that you were a Jew.
That I’m Jewish?
That’s right, Jewboy.
No! That’s not true.
You made a very controversial statement that black metal was only for white people and that in Norway people didn’t like negroes. Do you still stand behind that statement?
Yeah, but they don’t!
I know it’s true. I agree with you..
Yeah, it’s true.
A few blocks from where we are now, there is a place called Harlem. I have a fun idea. Let’s go to Harlem and yell as loud as you can that you hate negroes. Just for fun. We could go down there and say “Hey blacks we don’t like you. You are not welcome in Norway!“
Yeah okay. You go first.
Speaking of negroes and black metal, here is some trivia for you; Can you name the only negro that was in a classic Black Metal band from Canada?
Yes, it was in fact, Um. (Racks his brain for answer)
Your guitarist has a very similar name
Come on… Blas-ph
The up side to being a negro in black metal is that they would probably save money on corpse paint because they would only need to buy the white paint.
Yeah, they can if they want. Absolutely!
What is your opinion of Fenriz?
Fenriz? A good friend of mine. An alcoholic of course, and a good drummer actually.
I understand he has some kind of strange smurf fetish?
You know what a smurf is?
Yeah, those little blue naughty bastards. I think he likes to put them up his ass.
Fenriz is a huge star over here in America. He is on the covers of all the teen magazines like Tiger Beat and Big Bopper. I think there was some talk of Fenriz replacing Pierce Bronsnan for the next James Bond Movie, but he turned down the role.
That’s because I got the role!
All right, enough with the chitchat. Are you a better drummer than Fenriz?
(Yes, I definitely am.
Are you a better drummer than Akhenaten from Judas Iscariot?
Is it true that he beat you in arm wrestling?
(Yes it is.
He did beat you?
Yes. Actually I don’t remember because I was so fucking drunk.
I heard that you also tried to hit on his girlfriend, is that true?
Yes, I’ve heard you are something of a womanizer..
You have a boyfriend?
You do have a boyfriend?
Oh no! A girlfriend!
You should pay attention.
I’m fucking tired.
Yeah, do you usually get homosexual when you are tired?
(Metal Monster): Am I keeping you awake?
I can see that. Why can’t black children play in sandboxes?
Cat’s use the sandboxes to shit in
Close, because the cats keep covering them up! You like that?
I’ve heard it before
Really, then why didn’t you answer correctly?
No, I said..
Where is IT?
Where is IT?
Where is it?
Yeah, where is IT?
Do you know where IT is?
Have you seen IT?
I was just wondering if you’ve seen IT?
But what is it?
No, where is IT?
IT, yeah, ha, ha, very funny, duh..
(Metal Monster): Since we are on the same page now, do you know where IT is?
(Hellhammer): Probably in Finland somewhere.
There is a large population of homosexuals here in New York City. Does that please you?
Of course it does! Ha, ha, ha, no, no!
You’re not going to hit me are you?
Good. Are you going to cry?
Besides your other band Kovenant, are there any other homosexuals in the Norwegian black metal scene?
A couple, yeah
Would you like to name any of them?
Hm.I better not, you know, because they can come out of the closet themselves.
Is it true that Euronymous was gay?
Um, I better not speak about this.
Grishnackh stated that he found a dildo with shit on the tip of it in Euronymous’ apartment..
Oh really, ha, ha, ha.
Did you ever see this alleged shit-tipped dildo?
Did you ever see Euronymous with girls?
With girls, yes.
I was a little disappointed that Maniac did not cut himself tonight. Why didn’t he?
Um, because his knife got stolen in Milwaukee.
By the negroes?
I don’t know actually
Would you like to arm wrestle me?
interview with Harald conducted by Bill Zebub for Issue #23
I must make clear that my tone in these questions is respectful toward thee, even though it might seem that I am picking apart little details. Letus begin with a look at the vocals. They seem not to be as up front as before, and that might be caused by all the reverb. Or is that not the way that the final mix will sound?
I’ve never thought about the vocals place in the mix as any different from the other albums really, and actually we’ve never really been concerned as far as if the vocal should be up front or whatever. Of course the vocals are normally high up in the mix, but we’re more concerned about what sounds good as a whole. It might be a possibility that as the guitars are more powerful now, and also there’s “more” guitars when it comes to the actual riffing, so I guess that might take some from the vocals. The vocals still sound fuckin’ brutal in my ears and they sound great with the music. Also as you point out, it’s not the final mix you’re listening to, so there will be some changes and everything will come out a bit clearer.
I immediately noticed a more straightforward approach, and then I read about some artistic differences which resulted in the line-up change. Have the artists of the band left, being that there are no more experimental songs like “The Brighter the Light, the darker the Shadow?”
I don’t think you really can call it more straight forward as there’s not much that is more straight forward than “Onwards…” That one had about two different rhythms, ha ha! “Under The Reign of Terror” is much more varied when it comes to structures, tempo changes, and definitely when it comes to the riffs, which are the most complex stuff we’ve done for sure. The old songs were very streamlined, if I can use that word, and the riffs were simple and the arrangements also, with a few exceptions, one of which being “The Brighter…”. This song was a collaborative effort between Krell and Knarr, our old drummer, and I must admit that together they came up with some very weird stuff. There was too much problems with having Knarr in the band, though, and we had to let him go. No hard feelings because he’s a cool guy, but he didn’t have the time to make the commitment that was needed for touring and such, and also he was not interested in playing fast, which was one of the main reasons I think that our old stuff don’t have any really fast parts. He just didn’t have the stamina I guess… As for the other guys I can say that their departure has nothing but gained the band and our music.
The role of the keyboard has greatly diminished. Didst thou not consider that to be a trademark of thy sound?
No, actually not. The keyboards were never an important aspect of the band in our eyes, even if some might think that sounds strange considering they are very much present, especially on “Onwards…”. But in the original mix for that album the keyboards were much more in the background, however Season wanted to remix the album as they thought it sounded too messy, so we said “Ok, you contact studiomega and pay for it and get them to do it and it’s fine with us” because we hadn’t really got the sound we wanted anyway. We had at that time gone back to Norway and couldn’t be present at the remix, and so when the new one arrived the sound wasn’t much clearer at all. All that had changed was more bass and the keys were a lot higher! I guess Season told them to put up the keys as they probably thought it would sell more albums or something… I’m not sure, but all I know is that this wasn’t what we were after as far as the sound goes. Also, that album was as far as the music goes, too much compromising with people in the band who wanted to pull it in a softer direction, people who don’t know shit about extreme metal or metal at all, for that matter. Some of us wasn’t happy with that because we wanted Bloodthorn to go in a harder direction after the “In the Shadows…” and especially after “Onwards…” so they had to go. We also noticed that in a live situation the keys didn’t play such an important role ,and before we went on tour we actually simplified some of it which made it sound heavier.
Alas, the girl is gone. What has caused her departure?
We felt we didn’t need her and we saw the label (Season of Mist) and the press focusing on her and trying to make her like the front person, which was totally stupid as she didn’t write any music or lyrics and sang for about maximum five out of the fifty minutes on the album, so it was another attempt to commercialize the band, which we felt very uncomfortable with. We didn’t want the people to get the wrong impression and buy the album because of a female singer – which would’ve made them very disappointed since she’s barely on the album. Also, she didn’t show up on rehearsals, and live, she couldn’t do her job properly even if she only sang those little pieces, and therefore we didn’t see any reason for her to continue with the band, especially now that we’d got rid of the other elements that had hindered our progression, and the music turned harder.
I enjoyed the odd things in thy past material. But it seems to me that many unique elements have been eliminated. Of course, there will always be the telltale vocals. Yet I wonder, will the changes unmake thee?
I don’t know what you see as odd things, so it’s hard for me to say anything on that, but as far as we see it we’ve made our best album by far in every ways. We still feel that we have kept the things that for us made Bloodthorn in the past and that will make Bloodthorn in the future, and that’s what’s important for us. The band has progressed and we’ve done an album that we stand one hundred percent behind, and we don’t see how that can unmake us. The new album is just so much stronger, so much more interesting. It’s intense, heavy, aggressive, all the things that we wanted it to be, but I can’t predict if it’s gonna make us sell less records or more, ‘cause you will never know until it’s out there in the shops. The album is good, and with Red Stream backing us up I think it’s gonna go well. We got good feelings for this album.
Are any former bandmates bitter?
I don’t know and I don’t care. We talk to Knarr whenever he comes up of his basement and as said he’s totally cool, and Krell sees him quite often, but the rest I don’t care about. We know they talk shit behind our backs, but as long as we don’t have to see them, let them do whatever fuck they want. If people want to be assholes that’s their business and as long as we don’t have to mingle with them, let them be assholes. It only proves what miserable human beings they are.
Is Krell considered a national treasure? He is king of both black metal vocals and death metal vocals. I usually feel irritated by black metal vocals except in bands like Tristitia and Gloomy Grim. But I think that another reason why they are so tasty is that they do not ride atop music that is black metal. Bloodthorn does not adhere to a particular system. It seems that the best elements of many styles are selected in the crafting of thy songs.
He’s more likely a national disaster – and king of the forest – ha ha! No, he’s doing a great job. He’s definitely one of my favourite vocalists as far as black/death metal goes. He’s always equally powerful and not loosing any strength or brutality, and that’s very important. You’re right by not calling our music black metal, and we’re not doing so ourselves either. This was an issue we talked to Mica about, him labelling us black metal in the ads and shit, and for the second album we said ‘don’t write black metal’, but he did anyway – ‘atmospheric black metal’ or some crap like that. I mean, we definitely don’t see ourselves as a black metal band, not to say anything bad about the genre, but we’re just not doing that, and I think anyone with something between their ears will say the same. The first two albums actually had a lot of more doom metal oriented stuff in them as well, as the more aggressive parts, but for this one we’ve more or less forsaken the doomy parts and sped up a bit, but still keeping it heavy as fuck. I think it’s closest to what one would call death metal, and the lyrics and everything are really death metal, and the music is very heavy and aggressive and it got a bit of this and a bit of that so it’s hard to put a label on it. Some people said it reminds them of early death metal, others said it was like early ‘90’s black metal, so we hear at lot of different shit, and I think it’s up to each and everyone to put their own label on it. I guess it could be called something like “blackened death metal” or some shit like that. It’s not really important.
This atmospheric doom album features the powerful vocal delivery comparable to SHAPE OF DESPAIR – which is far more effective for this style than the black metal type of vocals that has snuck into some of the doom offerings. Indeed, it is better to hear a demon than any weaker spirit.
The four songs on this album have a long running time, so you are not buying an e.p. – in fact, two songs are over twenty minutes, and one of those is close to half an hour. This is perfect for the inner journey.
The music is plodding and morose, sweetened at times with nontraditional use of synthesizer, stamping a uniqueness to this style. Yes, the exquisite sorrows and pleasures of doom are contained in this work, but there is something new as well. The album does well to honor what is revered by lovers of doom.
The orchestral layers help the listener descend, but beware, a change in tempo hides in a song – perhaps I should not have revealed it, but it is worthy of mention because there is mastery in lulling the ear and then in frightening it.
If you love doom, you probably have decided to obtain this album within the first sentence of this review. It will be a worthy addition to your collection.
When I heard the first song i thought that the singer from WITHIN TEMPTATION had switched bands. I intentionally never read the press releases or album notes before I listen because I my impression needs to be based on what I hear. Getting back to the vocals, I really did think that there was a guest-vocal appearance which gave Draconian a new flavor. Afterward, i discovered that the band actually has a new vocalist. Despite singing in the same style as her WITHIN TEMPTATION counterpart, she beautifies the songs. If you haven’t heard DRACONIAN before, they combine several ideas, often melancholic, but not adhering to any on style, like doom or goth. It’s a hybrid that works very well. The contrast between angelic female vocals and gruff male vocals is not as stark as in early THEATRE OF TRAGEDY. You can discern every word, which brings the poetry to you for easier ingestion. I have enjoyed every DRACONIAN album and was pleasantly surprised by the change of vocals. The voice is quite beautiful. Each album has moments that stay in the imagination for a long time. If you enjoy being haunted by songs, then take a chance on this band.
Interview with Dani Filth conducted by Bill Zebub for Issue #8
Art thou hung over?
(laughs) I’m fuckin’ massacred. I’m taking these “Energy Now” tablets.
I am riding on some coffee, myself.
I just can’t keep myself awake. I feel like shit. And you know what? it’s all your fault!
Yeah. Because you’re American. Anyway…
Art thou ready, head-ache man?
Do you have to say it so loud?
Dost thy drummer play with a light bulb in his mouth?
Are you insinuating that he looks like Uncle Fester?
Well, that’s cool because nowadays in Europe and what-have-you, the press actually regards him as Uncle Fester, and for some reason, being a very violent character – he’s warmed to it, rather than just storming into the publication office and start killing people, which is fuckin’ amazing. But I think the new maxim for him is “Uncle Pester.”
In the photo with the blonde woman who is being bitten by everyone, he does look like Uncle Fester. But in another photo in the CD insert, he looks like the typical Brit with a misshapen head.
And not threatening at all.
I wouldn’t carry on too much about him because you haven’t met him yet. (laughs)
Perhaps we shall have a…
It can be commentated for the next issue. Is he more violent than the bass player of Solstice?
The English Solstice?
A bunch of pussies! They really are. I’m about half the size of that guy and I gave him ‘large’ when we last met. They were doing some weird thing with… uh, you know, the circle… Well, I wouldn’t say they were pussies because John was in Solstice – our new guitarist. But there was one point when they had like a “doom metal council” or something, for no reason at all. They would just gather telephone numbers and ring us up, giving us loads of shit. So we confronted them about it and they were like, “Ooh. I don’t think it was us” . Anyway, do carry on. Oh! Is he more violent than him? Yeah. Well, most certainly. But not as violent as Carl from Cancer, however.. who is incredibly violent.
Is he violent because he puts out mediocre albums?
(laughs) Probably, yeah. They split up, didn’t they? Because they just sucked. I don’t know what they did.
They were a cancer to the scene.
Dost thou think that thou art being typically English by ripping off the Scandinavian music?
(laughs) Do you mean showing appreciation for the likes of At the Gates?
I believe the word was blatant ‘rip-off’ of the most trendy aspects of Scandinavian black metal.
No. I think you’ve ‘got the message completely wrong.
I will do.
And stop chewing.
I’ve got a tootie bar or whatever they call them. Tootsie Roll… No. I don’t believe that at all. What you misunderstand is that Cradle of Filth write fuckin’ good riffs. And I’m in a ‘position to say that because I’m not a guitarist. So I m not bragging. I’m just saying Cradle of Filth write fuckin’ great guitar riffs. They’re not Swedish. I think they’re more typically British than Swedish. If anything, the Swedish would rip off the English scene.
This will be a great interview!
When you listen to Cradle of Filth… no, I’m afraid there’s no comparison whatsoever, and Nick is a much more skillful drummer than anything they’ve got to show apart from the drummer from Eucharist.
Wouldst thou liken thy vocals to those of a stupid bitch who is screaming that someone is pinching her breasts?
Is that all I sound like? I’ve failed miserably then, haven’t I? It should be more like a red hot poker in a virgin’s entrance, like the rings of her anus.
When singing, art thou…
I haven’t finished yet!
Oh! I’m sorry.
No. That’s just plain derogatory. Goodbye forever!
When singing, art thou inspired by memories of thy mommy burning herself on the stove?
Hey? Excuse me? What do you mean?
I thought thou wouldst be more evil in thy response.
No. It’s just that I don’t understand what you mean by that.
Perhaps the meaning is lost between American English and English English.
It was just a meaningless question.
I mean, there was a motive behind it. Otherwise, you know?
Hey! I am doing the interview, not thee!
No, no! But you’ asking me a question. I’ve got to know what it actually meant. Otherwise you could speak in hieroglyphics, couldn’t you?
Only if there were a caption that magically appeared above my head because hieroglyphics is a writing style, not a language. How dost thou feel that Seth Putnam considers thy band to bee extremely gay?
He’s probably just jealous because he can’t string a song together. Seth Putnam. That’s a fuckin’ awesome name. Awesome band name. Awesome thought – everyone should be killed. But unfortunately, his music is absolutely shite. And I think that he obviously realizes that, and that’s his way of compensating. I’m sure everybody’s going to listen to him.
Just as a break, what was that word?
Is it spelled “s-h-i.-t?
OK. That’s the Ahhhnglish (I pronounce english in the most gay way possible) way to pronounce “shit.”
It has derived from the Newcastle way where they say “Shite, man!” and things like that.
Wouldst thou consider thy manner of speaking to be “common.”
No. I think I’m a bit of a snob, actually.
Thou speakth the queen’s English?
Fuckin’ better believe it! I’ll hear nothing against the Monarchy.
Wouldst thou say that thou art vampiric?
Well, skinny and white, yeah. No. I can’t answer it seriously anyway because the question’s aren’t serious.
Thy teeth last night had fake fangs overlapping the canine variety.’ That would lead one to believe that thou art “gothic.” And is not the “gothic” scene merely a group of bisexuals who are trying to be horrific?
Quite possibly. Nothing wrong with being bisexual.
So wouldst thou suck a man for thy nocturnaL sustenance?
No. I certainly wouldn’t. But there’s nothing wrong with being it. You’re actually being narrow-minded, I think. I was on the Internet last night and you can tell that everybody on there was about 14. You can just see them pouring behind their computer. They probably didn’t have a girlfriend. They probably never went out, probably wondering what sex was like. All the questions seemed to do with men’s anuses and wanking and shitting on people and just being derogatory toward women.
Are not thy fake fangs a sign of stupidity?
A sign of stupidity? I wouldn’t call myself a goth either. I just like wearing black. I’m very sorry if that offends anyone. But most goths are pretty smelly and pretentious and not willing to speak to anyone and huddled in the corner in nightclubs, looking scary. No. I don’t like wearing fangs. I have other things that occasionally I wear.
And thy contact lenses make thy eyes appear to be those of a cat?
And cats are the original vampires?
You’re going back to Egyptian mythology, aren’t you?
I didn’t know that there was any meaning to what I just said. I was just trying to be funny. Is Cradle of Filth the most gay and trendy of all black metal bands?
No. I think that we’re just the best and the most popular. People just get jealous, and they have to laboriously argue. It just gets up my nose because we’ve had like 90’/o of the reaction in America has been utterly cool, and the other 10% are a load of jealous wankers who masturbate over pictures of Count Grishnack, thinking, “God! if onIy I had the integrity to do that! But I’m too scared, because if I ever went into prison, men would touch my bottom.”
Art thou secure in thy gender, wouldst thou say?
You mean, do I cross-dress?
In human myth, angels have wings , but in birdy heaven, do angels have arms?
Birdy heaven… (laughs) If there was ever issue. I don’t know. Ask one.
Christopher Columbus was in search of a new route to India. When he discovered America, the savages that he saw were mistaken for Indians. What if someone in India were looking for a shortcut to Spain? If they discovered America, would they call the natives “Spaniards”? Instead of cowboys and Indians, would we have Cow-worshippers and Spaniards?
(long pause) is there a relevance to this?
The one question that I ask that I want thee to explore is blown off.
What if Columbus re-discovered Atlanta?
Yeah. Whatever it is called. That question was a bit too taxing for me. No. You actually must be thinking of a point. When you come out with that questions it couldn’t be random.
It does seem a little involved, doesn’t it?
No. There must be a point to it, like there must be a point to the one I argued about and said, “What does that mean?”
Thou wilt detect the point when seeing it in print after thy hang-over is gone.
Why? Am I being overly grouchy?
No. Not at all. Thou art just not seeing what should be seen… It is just a joke.
Ok. Well, do go into that one. I’m just interested in why you cam with that.
I cannot give thee the keys to the kingdom.
We’re just talking about perspectives here, yeah? How things are viewed in somebody else’s perspective? And the point of it is? .What?
The album began with odd time signatures, which compelled me, but the buildup seemed to fizz instead of resolving. This was jarring, but not as much as when I heard the harbingers of faggotry. The riffing took on the massively gay style of dance-friendly metal, so much so that I predicted that, if there were to be death metal vocals, the delivery would be fake, either as a mainstream person’s attempt at real brutality, or as a weakling’s inability to deliver. Whatever the reason for the pseudo-death vocals, my dismay soon focused on the clean vocals that bordered on the gay realm of the poser. I tried my best to give this a chance, but each additional moment took me farther away from metal. This felt like a contrived and pretentious album specifically made for girls who rather dance than read, and for guys who like guys. The final test came when I was going to see what the band members looked like. I predicted, based on the songs, that the members would be distinctly non metal, and highly gay.. Isn’t it sad that this band is so predictable?
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 Trey conducted by Bill Zebub for issue #6
Thy attitude, as a band, has come under a lot of scrutiny. Dave Vincent has made some bold comments when asked about how involved he is in thy local scene. He responded with, “What scene? There is no scene. There’s only Morbid Angel!’ Dost thou think that such assertions hinder thee?
Um … Not really.
But how canst thou say that? A lot of bands have taken tremendous offense to that.
Really? Like who?
I am not at liberty to mention. But let us step away from thy peers. Fans have found the arrogant statements to be distasteful. It is not really an attitude that they admire. But then there are those who worship thee and praise thy airs.
Well, let me put it this way – we just feel that what we say is accurate to what’s going on as far as fact. When you blow all the smoke away, we’re talking about what’s standing – a secure thing that’s real. There’s a lot of hype and stuff like that surrounding a lot of bands. We’re just talking about actually what’s the music all about – what’s going into it, you know, without any extra fluff ‘n stuff that people would talk about that really has nothing to do with music. We only just talk about our music and how powerful it is and how we feel that it’s the most powerful music there is. It’s just what we feel. It goes beyond just music. It goes in just about everything. There’s a lot of people who. . . their whole career is just based on hype and fluff talk and all that kind of stuff, and fronts. Our career is based on serious material that we put a lot of time and effort into. So we just believe in ourselves and believe in our stuff.
Didst thou find it to be humiliating to be dropped from Giant Records?
What is the next step?
As far as labels, we don’t know. We’re just gonna see who gives us the best offer. As far as music, I don’t see us changing really, anymore than it’s changed with all the previous records.
Thou art very proud of incorporating certain extreme tempo notes in thy arrangements. I have heard thee say that not many musicians are capable of such feats. Dost thou care to expound?
What is it about the Morbid Angel guitar that cannot be duplicated?
Well, I think really it’s not the playing – it’s the creativity. That’s really what it’s all about. It’s the vision that is behind the riffing. I’m not saying that people can’t figure out our stuff, or be shown and mechanically play it. But what I’m saying is that I don’t see any other band coming up with as many different types of rhythms and song struc tures as we have on our records, and covered as much ground. That’s what I think is the difference. This band has a little bit more creativity, imagination, and we create so much new stuff in this type of music as far as all the different songs. . . when you take them and dissect them for what they are, there’s a lot coming from one band. The two videos that we put on MTV, like, Rapture and God of Emptiness – those two songs are, like, totally different from one another. One is, like, really fast and brutal, and hyper speed. The other is , like, down-tuned and slow and really heavy and all that. They’re totally different. But they’re from the same band. I don’t see any other band that is producing such a broad range of music. I haven’t heard it.
Thou art heavily into the Sumerian gods?
Is that because of what thou hast read of Lovecraft’s fiction, or is it because thou dost possess an actual anthropological interest?
Well, I haven’t really read any H.P. Lovecraft. David has. Fiction… you know, fact… I pretty much study the actual books that are translations from the old. . . uh. . . I can say “scriptures’ and stuff like that, in those areas. It’s like, you know, fiction or . . . myth. Myths are, like, based on what people believed You could say, or I could say, that all religion is fiction because there’s nothing really physically factual about it. It’s just all belief. Belief is the power. You can invent your own kind of religion, and if you believe in it strong enough and anchor in a reality to it, then you give it power, and it is powerful. So it’s kind of a question between, like, something being all fiction, and then something being, like, factual religion. I mean, all religion is basically, you know, people’s ideas and what they would say about a belief about some kind of power or something that’s beyond the physical realm. It’s all intangible. It’s not really something like a car or, like, food, or something that you can see and hold and touch. It’s something that you believe in. It’s something that gets your spiritual powers going. Myself, the stuff that I’ve read, that was, like, very interesting to me. That’s the way I live my life. I choose things that I like myself . . . what do I feel a part of or what can I feel a part of.
Vincent says that his interest is pure belief. Is that the same with thee? Or is it just an area of study?
Um. . . I don’t know. Maybe both.
Dost thou think that it is absurd to adopt a culture that is not thine? How canst thou be seen as authentic in thy belief if it is not only a foreign civilization, but a civilization long dead?
Well, when you say, “to be seen. . .’ to be seen by who? By myself?
By others, of course.
Well, see, I don’t care what other people think. I don’t base anything on what other people say is cool or what other people say is norm because I create my own cool and my own standards. I really don’t base any- thing by other people’s ideas of what’s right and wrong.
But if thou truly did not care what other people thought, thou wouldst not profess thy unusual tastes to the world. Thou wouldst just dismiss prying questions with “no comment” or “this is not appropriate for discussion.’ Thou calls thyself by a pseudonym that is from that culture. So that would lead people to ask thee about it. Dost thou not think that thou art baiting people?
I just think that I’m living my life the way I choose, which is Satanism. See, I don’t think of it like that. I just do whatever I feel is best for myself. When I get the opportunity to say what I got to say, I say it. People listen to it. Great if they don’t. Big Deal! It doesn’t affect me much either way.
When thou did say “Satanism,’ Didst thou refer to the Anton LaVey school of Satanism? Or is it what occultists call “Christian Satanism?’
I’m talking about my interpretation of Satanism.
Wouldst thou care to share a couple of things about that view?
Well, to me, Satanism is believing in yourself and making your own decisions, and pretty much controlling the way you live your life and what you do and what you think… you know, doing it for yourself and doing things because you want to and not because other people expect it out of you or other people are gonna think it’s gonna be cool or whatever. But really, actually, you can do that too if that’s important to you. The bottom line is, doing what’s important to you.
Is there anything evil about Satanism?
Evil? How do you describe evil? Is that just the opposite of holiness?
No. Evil as in hatred, acts that hurt others. . . perhaps it is the common idea of evil than thy own. I know evil is a relative term. But understand that I will always use common conventions, as I am not aware of thy own definitions.
…probably. I’m full of hatred. But I don’t live my life trying to hurt other people.
How about horrific? Is there anything horrifying about thy version of Satanism?
To me, or to other people?
To others, obviously.
I would say that Christians would. Average people, you know, maybe not. It depends on the individual, really, because, see, I’m beyond that. I think of people as Individuals, and maybe sometimes they’re a little more sheep-ish than others because they wanna follow the leader or follow and be part of something as opposed to, you know, letting themselves be by themselves in a decision or idea. I would say that it depends. You take a group of people and you might have out of ten, 3 people are saying one thing and the rest are saying something else. It’s hard to say. I didn’t really spend my time thinking about what other people think that much because that’s their job. I’m more concerned with what I think and what I do. I just do what I feel is best for myself.
Is there rivalry between Glen Benton and Dave Vincent?
Well, I don’t think there’s any really from David. See, what it is, is, I mean, it all boils down to people and the way they are and their values and what they think. See, us. . .we’re always asked questions about that band and other bands and whatever. “Oh. What do you think about their latest record?” See, part of Satanism too, by our definition, is to speak what you feel is the truth for you. What is your reality? Say it boldly. Don’t kiss ass and say, “They’re cool.” and then by yourself you’re thinking , “Oh they really suck. Oh I don’t really like them. But I’m gonna say they”re coot because I wanna be cool” I don’t care about being cool. That doesn’t mean anything to me. So we just say what we think, and people don’t like that. So. . . whatever. But see, I know also that they say what they think, and they say things about our band, and you know, to me, when you look at the music, I don’t really see that it can be compared. I think there’s a big difference between our records and their records as far as accomplishments and as far as creativity and, you know, you throw away all the hype and you get to the music and you just listen to it and what it does it do… I just feel that our music does a lot more.
But philosophically, are they opposed diametrically, Glen and Dave?
I don’t know. I guess you have to ask him. I know, myself, I’m actually very supportive of Deicide these days because I personally think that the drummer and Glen… I think they do a great job, you know, what they do. I think the vocals are really very creative and I think the drummin’s really solid. But you know, for me, I just always kind of felt that the music was lacking something. I just didn’t really get much out of the actual songs from one song to the next. But I really hope Deicide stays around because I think that the scene or whatever needs more bands right now, it seems like it’s just us that is really doing something and selling records and making things happen. But I really hope that Deicide stays around. I don’t have any beef with them at all. I just think that besides maybe talking and making all this hype up or whatever, they should maybe think about their music a little bit more. But whatever. I mean, they’re doin’ what they wanna do.
With regard to the Satanic element, it has been observed that most people who are very loud about proclaiming themselves as Satanic are often of puny stature and that they only pretend that they are Satanists to compensate for their physical weakness. Wouldst thou say that this applies to thee?
As far as proclaiming that I’m a Satanist?
It has been suggested that thou and Tommy from Motley Crue are the same person, making fun of thy skinny arms, and stating that the only reason thou art in the occult is to create some sort of macho image because thy physical presence cannot possibly do so.
Well, I can tell you one thing. I’m not, like, in the Ultimate Fighting Championship or some kind of prize boxer. So I’m certainly not trying to be some kind of massive macho fighter or whatever. I’m a guitar player. That’s what I do. That’s what I’m offering these people. . . is my guitar playing. I put a lot of time and effort into that, and I think that in that I’m very powerful and I’ve accomplished a lot. I don’t really know what that’s supposed to mean.
Has anyone ever hugged thee and loved the and called the ‘George Emanuelle?”
Has anyone done what now?
Has anyone hugged thee and loved thee and called the “George?”
Not that I remember.
If thou ever played baseball, wouldst thou be pitcher or catcher?
I don’t know.
If thou wert having gay sex with thy manager, wouldst thou be pitcher or catcher?
Well, I don’t know. That sounds pretty weak to me.
Thy hecklers are may.
That’s the thing. Why aren’t these people who are saying all this stuff. . . how come they’re not, like, writing music that’s gonna just make our band nothing? I don’t get that. It’s easy to say a mouthful of nothing. But it’s a lot more work to create music and product, because that’s what a band is. A band is music. That’s what it’s all about. It’s about making music and creating a statement, and devastating with chord structures and timing sequences and things like that. All this other stuff.. it means nothing.