This interview with Quorthon was conducted for Issue #5. I kept in contact with him, and we had talked about him participating in my black metal documentary. He was to videotape himself answering my questions and then send me the footage, but he died of a heart attack.
Dost thou acknowledge that thou art the father of black metal?
In Sweden we have an expression that goes, “Everybody knows the monkey, but the monkey doesn’t know anybody”. What I am trying to say is that, if somebody comes up to me and says, “God man, your music has been such an influence on me and my buddies, and there are two million bands copying your music, and you have such importance on the metal scene for all these years” who the hell am I to say, “Yeah!” because I’m sitting here in my kitchen playing a couple of songs on my acoustic guitar?” I go into the studio to record it….. having a great time/// don’t think much about it. Once the album is released – twelve years later you have a lot of people telling you that your stuff was so great and has meant so much. There are no scales by which you can match your influence. We all sound different anyway.
Thou wert not contacted by the “Inner Circle?’
… inner what?
Those bad boys in Norway.
Oh yeah! Those guys! They wrote a lot of letters to me when they were young – when they were big, big, big, big Bathory fans, and they even had a magazine. I don’t remember the name. But they were heavily into the Satanic shit that we were doing. Once, a couple of these guys were arrested for the things that they did – you know, burning down churches, killing people. They told the police that they were influenced by my music. So I had a letter from the Norwegian police asking some questions – a truly weird situation. All we’re dealing with here is music and fantasy.
] They speak of some jewish conspiracy. I was wondering if that’s just their own personal political philosophy, or is it entirely a Norwegian way of thought.
To begin with, without mentioning any names or try to mock down on anybody personally, or a group of people – I think there’s something completely wrong with you if you mix Odinism with Nazism and Satanism. All of these three things don’t have anything in common. If you’re a Satanist you couldn’t be a son of Odin because Odinism doesn’t believe in earthly values in the way that the Satanists are. If you’re a neo-Nazi you wouldn’t be able to play death metal and have long hair. So what we’re talking about here is total ignorance.
I was wondering if Scandinavia was an anti-semitic community, based on the rantings of the Inner Circle.
Well, a lot of people have preconceived notions about Scandinavia. Certainly some American people I talked to when I was over there – they think Stockholm is like a suburb of Moscow or something. The thing is, I was fucking a Portuguese girl a couple of years ago,and she had this truly weird opinion about Swedish and Norwegian people. She thought we were the same type of people. The language is basically the same, like British English and America English. Norway is very conservative and old-fashioned, and a very christian country. They’re like four-and-a-half/five-million people, and we’re like eight-million people. That’s fly shit in the universe, compared to what’s out there. Sweden is a very liberal country, and all values are accepted – except neo-Nazi and anti-semitism. Sure, there are groups like that all over. You have this “New Order” in the United States, and all these church knuckle-heads over there. So I think it’s a universal thing. Everybody needs to blame anything on anybody. In Sweden, when christianity came around destroying a lot of the European culture, a lot of the stuff that has been going on for thousands of years… was destroyed. We don’t know too much about our own history. If you don’t know the past, you cannot master the future. If some young guy is into some heavy music… has the idea “Shit, man! We don’t like the church, and we have to get into something that is against the church”
. Now we know there are no golden thrones above the clouds, and so on.So I think they’re just picking up on anything that’s against society and the establishment and most of all, the church.
The Satanists who are from the Anton LaVey circle use the term “christian Satanist” to define bands like Deicide. I am not sure if thou hast heard of them.
Sure. I worked as head of the security when they were playing in Stockholm, and they probably didn’t know who I were. Two or three Bathory fans recognized me. Nobody else recognized me. So…
The Satanism that thou used for lyrical ideas is ‘christian Satanism,’ the kind that is evident in bands like Deicide. It is not from the LaVey school.
Basically, it was very innocent. I don’t know if you had it over there, but in Sweden during the early ’70’s we had a magazine or horror book called ‘Shock’ with Vampirela, Dracula, Frankenstein, and all that shit. We were very interested, when we first started, in the darker side of life, not necessarily the evil side of life. At one point we wanted to make a statement against the establishment, or christianity, because it’s old and dull and square and blah, blah, blah. We didn’t know what to write about. In bands like Saxon and Motorhead, they were thinking about motorcycles going down the road at 200 miles per hour, whiskey, and fucking women. We came straight out of school. We just turned to what we were interested in, which was the mysterious. Everybody is interested in that at a certain point in your life. I don’t think that we wanted to make a statement except for trying to be upsetting people in a very innocent fashion. We were very far away from the academic in any sense. We didn’t know shit. Really. We didn’t. As soon as I wanted to get deep down into it, I read the Bible. I read everything about Satanism. I read the Black Bible and blah, blah, blah. All that happened was, I came to the conclusion that it was all bullshit. I mean, we know there are no heaven. There is no hell. There are no golden thrones up there. There is no god. There are no devils. Nothing happens to you when you die. So you’re just an electrified organism. When you die, you go back to earth. That’s it. Man, from the dawn of time – we invented gods – and old gods became new gods in new religions. Christianity – the only reason why it has stayed so long is because christianity conquered the Western Hemisphere, which technically, is more advanced – and more advanced a thousand years ago than Africa or Asia. The christian man stood on the moon in 1969. Praise jesus christ. Sure.
Getting back to thy more physical out-look on life...
Art thou familiar with the philosopher “Descartes?’
I think, therefore I am. Dost thou remember?
No. I just read scientific magazines.
Well, his thought is what scientific method is based on – the observable and what can be proved, as in – if a result is achieved once, it should be duplicated another time under the same conditions. It seems that thou hast the same way of thinking.
I didn’t mean to sound so cool, you know? I mean, anything I say could be interpreted as the result of reading the works of Friedrich Nietzsche, the German philosopher.
His work is reputed to be tampered with by his sister who survived him.
Yeah. That’s true. Not all of the work. But most of it. Some of the stuff was published while he was still alive. He was famous even in his young years.
But dost thu not think that his suffering influenced his thinking, what with the diarrhea and constant nausea?
I think a lot of what he did was the result of his mental illness. But if you have a mental disorder, or if you’re truly koo-koo in your head, 500 years ago they would be called saints. We had a truly weird woman in Sweden 600 years ago. She’s the only saint we had in Sweden – the Holy Begetta. If she would be alive today, she would be locked up somewhere.
There is thy video…
(laughs) You bastard! There’s a love and hate thing going on there. I spent between $3,000 and $5,000 on that video out of my own money, and we had 16 hours of film. Once the whole thing was supposedly mixed together. There was so little time because I was going on a promotion tour in Europe for six weeks. We had so little time to do the video properly before we went out. So I said, “O.K. Let’s wait. I’ll take care of all that when I get back to Stockholm.” But sometime when I was out there, someone put the whole thing together and just started to distribute it – and it was not meant to be that way. I should say first that I have never seen the video myself. I refuse to see it. The guy who was filming that thing – six months after recording that video, nobody heard from him anymore. He owes us a lot of money and all that. I spent two weeks organizing – renting horses, uniforms, armor, swords, people, food, driving people – everything. I paid a lot of money and I wasn’t even allowed to be there when the whole thing was mixed. We had 16 hours of film, and I wasn’t even allowed to see one second.
Thou art one who uses a drum machine.
It’s 50/50. The snare drum, and I believe the “ride’ is a drum machine. Then the drum rolls and some of the crashes on the high hat is the real thing. The reason you use most of the time a drum machine for the snare drum is – you can never get a real good sound out of a real snare drum. It’s very hard. But I mean, everybody is working with sample technique today anyway. So…
I Interviewed someone who’s been sentenced to 53 years in prison. He was part of the ‘Diabolical Skinheads,” as the press referred to them. The reason I interviewed him was because of the coverage by the media of the black metal violence.
Everything does not have to be attached to the label “black metal violence.” You cannot blame an entire genre for what a couple of people are doing. We’re voting politicians into power for four or five years, and they’re the guys who start world wars and drop atomic bombs. I’ve yet to see a death metal fan start a world war or kill six million jews or pollute our oceans.
So stop me at any time. “…these bands don’t actually practice the rites of the left hand path, not at all. They just merely claim to so as to snare the uneducated child (who so desperately seeks an idol) into purchasing their fallacious CD release. The band ‘Bathory’ comes to mind when thinking along these lines. Consider the many occult/pagan claims Quarthon has made in the past, and the atheistic view he now holds, and the blonde hair dye, or is that really his natural hair color? Well, like his integrity, one never knows. Seemingly rock star jewelry, or shall we call it Jew-ery? One can easily see the many transitions a poseur goes through when the poseur is tired of acting one way, so begins to act another way. Well, as far as the blonde shit goes, my hair is “natural.’ Over there you’d probably call it “blonde.” But over here, it’s just natural, or golden brown, or whatever you want to call it. 99% of the city’s population have golden brown hair. Actually, I used to dye my hair black because my jackets were black, and it makes a great outfit. Does he anywhere explain what the right thing is? I mean, he was just pissing off a lot of people by saying they’re wrong. What’s HIS philosophy on life? What’s the true way? You said a ‘skinhead.’ Is he neo-Nazi or a Satanist or an anti-jewish guy or what?
His ideas I have never encountered before.
Let me make a parallel here. When I was, shall we say, the cock-sucking slave of Satan 15 years back, I would fuck off bands like Celtic Frost and Volvod – Celtic Frost because I didn’t like their sound or the way they looked. I didn’t think they were enough Satanists, if you know what I mean. I thought that they were more into art and the academic way of it. I didn’t like Volvod because they were doing the space shit thing. I was too ignorant. I didn’t know shit. It wasn’t until years later that I started to listen to Voivod as a professional, realizing that these guys really had something. They were pioneers. I still hate Celtic Frost. Nobody is allowed to mock anybody else down. I still hate them, and I stand for that. But I shouldn’t mock down a band because I don’t like them. I may not understand it. But there are people who are in love with Celtic Frost’s music and people who like my music. There’s just one planet, and there’s room for everybody here. What goes on in your mind is ten million times bigger than the universe. And my political views and my religious views will not affect anybody as long as I keep it inside my head. But if I don’t deal with my values and compare it to what man has achieved as far as science is concerned… and medicine – the way we progress as individuals and as a species – come up in a truly weird soup – and one of these days, if you have an ounce of hate in you, all that shit will explode. If you put a bomb in a state building, if you kill a friend – as in Norway or whatever – kill a homosexual, or blow the brains out of a jew – we shouldn’t try to label all these actions as racism or an act of religious defiance. What we should label it as is purely “crime.’ We shouldn’t label ourselves death metal bands, black metal gods, or rock idols wearing jewelry. We should just label ourselves as musicians and individuals. In ten years, nothing of this will even matter. So I think it’s very pointless to make comments of something a person says, who, first of all, has never met me and probably never met any of the other people he was referring to. So it’s just pointless. I will answer him in a letter or something, if that’s what he wants. But if you make a comment to a person like that, you just give him too much importance. When we were kids, I grew up listening to KISS, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, and The Beatles. I didn’t know shit – what kind of drugs these guys were taking, what it felt like to sit down on a motorcycle going down the highway, what it felt like to be fucking girls in a limousine. I’ve done all that now. I’ve fucked a girl in the lavatory of a 747. I’ve done all that, and it’s not because I am the son of Satan. I didn’t do it because I was the greatest guitar player in the world, or I had the best face, or the longest hair, or whatever. I was able to be a part of something that just happened – the underground movement. Kids wanted a music for themselves. Then someone comes along 15 years later doing something and they lock him up away in jail for life, and he starts to make statements about something he’s never been a part of and doesn’t understand the situation of working-class kids in Europe. He should just shut up and not make any comments about anybody. And YOU shouldn’t make comments about what he has to say about other people! You give him too much importance. The world is full of knuckle heads anyway.
I was turned off by the muddy production at first, but as I listened I realized that i wasn’t going to hear something cliche or easy to define. What had initially been deemed hazy became atmospheric. This made me want to hear more, and so I knew that the lights had to be turned off. It was time for an inner journey.
The guitars created a wall of sound, Rather than sadden with melody, they chilled with icy notes. This wasn’t a flow. This was an ever-present moment of agony. These weren’t riffs, per se, but musical accompaniments to inner horror. Ghastly chords chimed hauntingly as I was pulled deeper. This music created a mental place.
Whenever there was melody, it was never a repeated theme – more like remembrance of dark times, as if I were recalling moments of pain, each summoned memory replacing the one that was re-lived moments before..
Stertorous voices expressed the torture of the words. As I descended into madness, there came a passage in “Ashes in Bloom” that was like the parting of clouds, but the sky behind was more terrifying. Inside this new patch of sound, the voice suddenly changed to that of an intensely emotional bard. I felt as if the song had purposely prepared me to be crushed. This is mastery.
As powerful as the ideas are, the methods are not used for each song. The heartfelt singing does not burst into every song, nor does it bear the same qualities upon every appearance. The only predictable thing about this album is that it will immerse the listener in gloom.
“Sing, oh children of loss, your cracked hands grasping for wonder in emptiness”
This is a bit of an unusual album with almost every song bearing its own style, and in some cases, the styles change withing the songs.
The (female) singer reminded me of Grace Slick. This is because her strong voice can soften when needed, and she can adeptly ride through all manner of riffs, changing as needed.
The first song demonstrates her range quite well. When I first heard it, there was a phenomenon – the female essence caressing the receptors in my male brain, so-to-speak. Such smooth coursing of notes was easy to love, but these were often disrupted by sudden bursts of power. This woman can conjure up quite the scream. As I mentioned, this singer has several techniques, coloring the songs in many ways. Add to this the poetic lyrics that are clearly understood, delivered by a wizened voice – it is like hearing a soul bleed the words.
That experience was just the first song “Blood and the sand.” I’ll jump ahead to the last song, “Underdogs” and must inform you that the album is worth the price if it just contains these two songs. Of course, you get a lot more than that, but these two are the most savory.
“Underdogs” is superbly dynamic, riding emotional tones deftly, stitching together forms that ultimately create the feeling of a beginning seeing its end. The sense of a mad story finally resolving is quite a feat to experience.
As for the music, you must be warned that Madder Mortem is a band that has its own style, or should I state, MANY styles. Don’t go into this with any other expectation than to go into new territory that sometimes feels distantly familiar. Treat yourself to an adventure. When was the last time that you had to listen to an album for a few months in order to unlock its man aural secrets?
“Make from the ghosts that crowd my mind a single thing…..”
When I first played DISHONORED on PS3, I did so in order to relive the extreme fun of THIEF, a game that i had played on XBOX years earlier. Unfortunately, this didn’t have the same feeling, and I didn’t like the gameplay at all. DISHONORED had a lot of character abilities that negated the sense of tension. In THIEF (the old game), the character was distinctly human and had to rely on stealth. Everything could kick his ass easily. In DISHONORED, the character had supernatural abilities which made him seem almost invulnerable, at least compared to the beloved THIEF game. As much as I hated the differences, I grew to love DISHONORED as a game unto itself. If I stopped comparing it to THIEF, then it was fun as its own thing.
Surprisingly, THIEF came out for PS3 that year. I actually cancelled all other plans for the first week, but I did so seemingly for nothing. The new version of THIEF had exactly the same gameplay as DISHONORED. I almost threw the game into the wall. It’s as if the same game “engine’ was just transferred to a different story.
I performed a cursory search to find an explanation for this insult. Apparently THIEF was under new management, so-to-speak. The new company did not seem to realize what had made THIEF on Xbox so amazing.
I continued playing the new THIEF, hating the stupid changes, but eventually I learned to discard my love of the earlier version and to accept that such a game might never exist again. This helped me to enjoy the game and I finished it with a hunger for more.
This brings us to DISHONORED 2 (for PS4). I purchased this on the very first day of release, and have only now finished it, some weeks later. I enjoyed it thoroughly. I had no preconceived notions to dispel.
This time around i decided to use stealth only as a means to kill. In the very early THIEF, the character was not an assassin per se. The goals were largely non-lethal. The DISHONORED games make the character that yo play able to easily fight opponents, so I used stealth only as a sort of cheating method to exact revenge.
Let me explain. If the fiction shows that a kind ruler were usurped by a brutal one, why would his officers remain? Wouldn’t they flee, or pretend to go along with the new rules until they could do something positive?
Further, if the officers of the new regime were brutal as well, following orders instead of trying to rescue the the benevolent ruler who was imprisoned, should my character spare them? The story in the game disallowed those characters from reverting to their nicer ways. Why leave that kind of character alive, who would stop at nothing to prevent the rescue?
I became the vengeful hero, or anti-hero, depending on how you see things. on the gamer side of the decision. The game was not like THIEF (the earlier version) in an important difference. in THIEF I had to use stealth to survive,. In DISHONORED, DISHONORED 2, and the New THIEF, stealth just provides different rewards. It is not necessary for life. The tension is not caused by fear of death – it is fear of game status.
I must confess that it was fun to play this way. I may play again in a few months, trying to take the nonlethal approach. But even if I never play again, this experience was worth the $50.
Extreme Metal Retardation is the second installment in the METAL RETARDATION series. It contains interviews with Dimmu Borgir, King Diamond, Enslaved, Voivod, Enthroned, Kreator, Tyr, Huntress, Alestorm, and Arkona.
This is the free version. The DVD is longer, due mostly to music clips, some of which are live performances exclusive to the DVD. Maybe you’d like to see the free version before buying te DVD, but don’t feel obliged.
The interviews in METAL RETARDATION are mixed together for maximum entertainment, so even if you don’t know a band you will still be amused. The point of this mixture is for you to get acquainted with bands that you don’t know while getting to see bands that you love (albeit in a much different situation that you are accustomed to, ha ha).
Interview with King Diamond conducted by Bill Zebub
(This interview was published in Issue #7)
I had brought to Kings attention that the song “Melissa’ did not have vocals over a certain part of the song when the album was released by Megaforce Records. But when Roadrunner Records released it, suddenly there were new vocals! Also, the Megaforce version had a very thick reverb on the voice, whereas the Roadrunner version had no such processing on the voice. I sent King Diamond the two different versions.
Did you receive the two versions of “Melissa?’
How do you think that happened?
I have absolutely no clue. It’s like I told you, it’s a physical impossibility. It makes absolutely zero sense.
Yes. If you handed in the master to Megaforce, how could they have erased vocals?
What I hear is that giant reverb that you talk about… You talked about that too, remember?
And that I hear big-time. Wow, man! I do NOT understand how that could’ve happened.
So which version do you prefer, the Roadrunner or the Megaforce?
Well, the Roadrunner is the original.. I know that. I really cannot explain how that can happen because it’s impossible.
That ‘Melissa’ song is like the Bermuda Triangle.
Did you hear the backwards message that I also provided, where you are saying, “What message is this?”
That I did not hear. No. Did you include that on the tape?
Yes I did. Perhaps I shall send another.
That is very interesting. Maybe there are even more powers to that song. That other stuff there is so strange because I remember the first time we talked about it I was like, “No fucking way! There’s no way in hell that that can happen.’ And I still would say that there is no way in hell that that could have happened. But I have now heard that it exists, which is mind-blowing to me. You just can’t add to vocals. We have the 24-track master. They could never have gotten a hold of that, first of all. They get a finished master. They would never get a 24-track tape. That remains in the studio. What they would get could be a 1/2” master, which is everything mixed down. It’s what they master the album from. So the only thing they could have done there, if somebody thought it was funny or whatever, go in and add some extra reverb or something. But then it would be through the entire thing. It would be guitars, bass, drums… everything, because you can’t divide up tracks on a 1/2.” It’s not possible.
Someone was interpreting your vision.
Yeah. But probably not humans because it’s physically impossible.
Indeed this is quite a mystery. It is so odd that, of all backwards messages that could appear on his album, the one that would result when the words “”Satan”s cross upon the wall” are played backwards is “What message is this?’ Let us delve further. Could the backwards message be asking “What are we telling you by wiping out vocals even though it is not physically possible?” Is this evidence of the supernatural?
I have been discovering gold mines of old material when Kim Ruzz was in the band, even video footage from Holland.
There Is one show from Holland that nobody has which is EXTREMELY good quality.
It is coming to me even as we speak.
Yeah, but it won’t be that one. Guaranteed. We have the only master tape of that show.
Maybe one day fans worldwide will be able to have that.
We even approached the record label about that. Why not compiling all our video’s that we have done so far? There is quite a few by now. We do have some live stuff that we took from people who were shooting it right there. So we have the only copies ever made. There is some interesting footage there.
Somehow, someday, the earlier albums must be transcribed into sheet music and tablature, not so much for the chords, but some of the guitar is just so bizarre at some points.
That’s true. That’s very true
It would be very interesting to find out what was in the composer’s mind.
Of course, sometimes guitarists play chords in a different way. Others would transcribe it in a traditional way. You wouldn’t get the right sound out of the chord, you know. But you’d be very close. But the difficulty, mainly, is more the memory. You need to have really good memory to play all the way through that song (Satan’s Fall), and to play all those riffs in the right sequence because it’s not logical at all. And that’s the problem with playing that song… very illogical build-up.
You have angered so many guitarist whom I’ve approached, begging , ‘Please, pick out the notes from these solos.’ They give up!
Yeah. You would not want to know the insults that were spoken against Hank Sherman and Michael Denner by the frustrated guitarists whom I have sought to employ.
The funny thing about most of Hank’s solos… they’re planned. He’s the guy who plans his solos. He does very little spontaneous solo-ing. Michael Denner is the opposite. He does most of his solos spontaneously and then he pretty much learns them afterwards.
That is so strange. There are a few very unusual time changes. But they’re more strange in that they are not noticeable unless they are looked for.
Are you responsible for that?
Well, very much, yeah. And also, Hank, definitely in the songs HE wrote. The thing is, the longer we play this style, the more naturally things come to us. It’s not like we sit and plan to do anything complicated at all. It doesn’t seem complicated. That’s not a thing that you pay attention to unless you sit there and try to play along with it. The time changes are not something that we sat down and said, “Let’s do a time change.” We just write straight from the heart like we’ve always done. That’s why it’s tough for other band members to get involved in the songwiiting. I’ve seen it before… several times, when Hal Patino was playing with King Diamond… Tim Hansen tried something with Mercyful Fate in the old days. Snowy Shaw, the drummer, is a pretty good guitarist actually, and he used to write a lot of songs when he was in the band Memento Mori. Even Sharlee tried to write something for Mercyful Fate. But it didn’t belong there at all. Hank and I didn’t want to say to them, “That stuff doesn’t cut it. It’s not Mercyful Fate music.” But we actually sent it off to Brian Slagel. He heard it and said that it’s got nothing to do with Mercyful Fate. There has to come a certain feel from the music. It’s not enough that you have skillful writers because they will force putting something complicated into the music just to please us. It doesn’t work if it doesn’t come in a natural way. That’s why it takes such a long time. Andy now is beginning to write more and more songs for King Diamond. There is a certain feel that needs to come from what’s been written. When there is complicated stuff, it’s nothing that we’ve been planning. It all seems natural for us.
Time changes usually attract attention, or they disturb the listening experience. But the time changes on the new album flow so well that it took a drummer to point out the changes to me.
That’s why it’s so difficult to write that way if you don’t feel that way naturally. If you just come in there and just write straight from your heart, most people would not put the time changes into the music where we do. We just feel a little different about these things.
The newer music seems to be more melodic. That seems to give it a more up-beat feeling, whereas in the old days it was more dark. Do you agree?
I think that both things are in there because there is some obscure shit that is in there. You know that we were very straightforward in the old days on a lot of songs. It might be the way that we arrange songs now. We always had melody. The song “A Dangerous Meeting” has a lot of breaks. But it has a lot of melody and choruses. “Nuns have No Fun” is a very straight forward song. We had a lot of those. “Evil” is very straightforward too, even vocal-wise. So THAT I don’t think has changed a whole lot. I know that on the new album there are a couple of tones that I haven’t used with my voice before. It just felt right for those types of songs. “Into the Unknown” really reminds me a lot of old stuff that could have been from “Don’t Break the Oath” very much because of the intricacy and how I sometimes sing there. Some of the stuff on that song you would have a very hard time hitting my timing if you were singing along. If you had to stand there and sing it on your own, with the band, you would have an extremely hard time getting that specific time feel. Sometimes you go in, not on the down beat, but a half beat later. If you go straight in on the down beat it’s much more aggressive. But it’s a matter of varying those things and finding what suits the riffs.
It is so strange that there are so many components to something that, to an ear that is casually listening, sound simple.
True. Yeah. There is a part in “Into the Unknown” where I’m singing “Sin … sin … sin” The timing of those extra words “sin”… if you try to hit it, it’s a feeling thing. It’s kind of like Robert Plant… he has this incredible ability and flair for timing. Very few people can mimic his timing… the way he pronounces words, how he drags them, how long he holds them, where he starts certain words. He’s very feeling-oriented and not so much technical oriented like “Get in on the down beat there.” It’s very much like coming a millisecond after.
Has there been an annoying producer involved on the new albums?
We are completely responsible these days for our stuff. We have Tim Kimsey, who is pretty much one of us, who was hired as an engineer instead of Roberto Falcao. But because of the killer job that he does, he deserves to be credited as co-producer. But he was originally hired as an engineer on the album “In the Shadows” because Roberto Falcao was unable to leave Denmark and come to the U.S.A. and record that album with us. When I talked to him he said, “All you need now is a good first engineer, because you can produce yourself.”
Currently Texas is your home. Does living there influence your outlook toward music?
Not a bit. Not one bit. No.
How involved art you in the Texan culture? Has it rubbed off on you in any way?
I don’t think so. You won’t hear me say “ya’ll”. I know what’s going on now in the United States. But I’m still 100% Danish. I’m aware now how things are done in the U.S.
The reason I ask is, your pronunciation and word usage in the past has been more like that of classical literature. But now, your pronunciation in phrases like “who’s GONNA die” seem to be directly from the Texan way of speaking.
You know, yeah… that’s a thing that has happened gradually. If you went back and took it album by album, you could gradually hear it. In ’88, when we moved to the United States… you get stronger in the language, and your vocabulary expands. You just know a whole lot more words. I don’t even think when I speak English. In the early days, when doing interviews, I literally had to sit and think. When someone asked me a question, I was thinking in Danish and then I had to translate my Danish thoughts into English. It was pretty tough explaining, because it was not easy subjects that we were dealing with. There was a lot of explaining to do. But these days, I even told my wife that I dream in English now. When I write little notes for myself – what I have to do – “remember this” and “call this guy” – it’s sometimes English, sometimes Danish… sometimes half and half. Plus it’s a benefit for me, writing in English feeling more comfortable in the language, not to think for five minutes before actually writing what I have to say.
There is a new kind of singing… the best way for me to describe is, your voice is strained almost to the voice of breaking… but not being lost. I know that many Southwestern vocalists employ such techniques.
Yeah. That’s some of the new stuff that I am completely aware of. You find a lot of old-fashioned Mercyful Fate in there. But there are some new ways that I use the tone of the voice. There are times in there when it would just be easier to do a low falsetto. Then usually you would have to multiply them by quite a few because we’re not singing Barry Manilow or something like that, where you could sing with this bawdry soft voice. If I did that it wouldn’t fit the music at all. It has to be full power. Singing in a very low falsetto – full power – that makes that low falsetto crack. But then you could get by and do something completely crazy. But then you might get away from the original idea you have. They are chosen there on some spots to go full blast, as high as you can get with a normal voice – I can get pretty high with a normal voice, even when I sing powerful. Most of the vocalists you hear on albums today – they sing no louder than I speak now. There you will see one hell of a difference between what I do. I am full blast in the studio. I am full blast live. That’s one thing that I’ve been told by our sound engineer. “God Damn man! Singing so much power into that mike!’ How can I have those emotions that I feel in me for certain things if I didn’t sing full blast and holding back just to be clean?
Did your father die recently?
No. That’s a long time ago. Eight years ago.
In the song, “Daddy” remembering your father’s death, did that…
Of course, you do think of your own dad. But it’s nothing like I saw him recently as a spirit or something like that. It’s a tool you use. You put that emotion into the vocals. A lot of people would get very emotional from listening to that song. I know for a fact, when we did record it, that song was one of the very few songs that has been done with no additional vocals. It’s one lead vocal. That’s all. Most of the times I double the lead vocal – sing twice exactly the same to create a certain sound of the voice. That’s extremely hard because of all the bent notes and crazy shit I do. That one song, ‘Daddy’ was one lead vocal all the way through. And it was done in only four takes. I had the lyrics done in twenty minutes. It’s the fastest song I’ve ever done in my life. The second engineer, while I was recording it – when I was halfway through, he walked out of the studio, crying. It was pretty heavy. And Tim Kimsey, he went out and called his dad in the middle of the night just to see if he was O.K.
I knew there was a special dynamic at work there. It had to have been an actual loss. That emotion cannot be faked.
No. Also, the second engineer, his father died two years ago, and it brought up some memories when I was singing that stuff, that he just broke out and left the studio.
I must admit that that song does work a potent spell. No pun intended. Thou art the Pied Piper.
You can say so. Yeah. If you look at other things that we talked about – putting full-blast emotion into the vocals – the ending of the song, “I Am” where I’m pretty much screaming at the top of my lungs, “Die!” – I picture this guy, McEnzie, the mayor in this story, who’s a child molester – I picture this fictitious guy who I know exactly what he looks like in my mind. But you have to be able to get so deep into the story that you pretty much become who you’re singing about. I saw this guy. It was all clear when I was recording the ending part of that, and just completely freaked out. So everybody was laughing in the control room afterwards.
To me, the operatic vocals of earlier albums were operatic in a “classical” sense. Does it have any meaning to you when I say that, these days the operatic vocals are operatic in a “metal” sense?
I don’t think of it in those ways. I don’t plan that they have to have a certain classical feel to it. It always comes down to what fits the music and the story and the lyrics.
Your critics say that new Mercyful Fate sounds no different from new King Diamond. They disagree that new Mercyful Fate has any relationship with old Mercyful Fate. The reason that I am telling you this is that it is a sentiment that some fans feel, and I think it would be good for you to address that.
O.K. I haven’t heard that. With regards to these two new albums, in over a hundred interviews in Europe, when Hank and I were over there. and everybody else that wee talked to that has heard it so far, has been able to hear probably the very clearest difference between the two bands ever. The sound of the two bands, the musicians that are involved, the whole concept, even my vocal style on the two – there’s a big difference. Of course, you should be able to recognize my voice because it’s so special that you would always be able to. But the musical style and all that stuff, the kind of feel that comes from one band compared to the other… I have experienced from people’s views, the extreme difference.
I just wanted to bring that up.
Oh yeah. But I have heard only the opposite with regards to these new albums. There’s a bigger difference between the two of them than has ever been. It’s like one album could be Deep Purple and the other could be Black Sabbath. That’s how different they actually sound, both production-wise and song-wise.
I did see something on the new Mercyful Fate that I didn’t think that I’d ever see. And that is the word, ‘Lucifer.’
But that was even on the last album.
But now there is an actual track called, ‘Lucifer.’
I thought that you were trying to shy away from that in order not to scare away the more narrow-minded fans.
No. I’ve never been shying away from anything. I’ve been using different words to describe things, to not be misunderstood. I don’t think that is the case anymore. I think that I have done so many interviews that people know what I think. There might be people out there that have never given us a chance to know what we stand for. They might feel a little awkward. Then they ARE narrow-minded. (laughs). If you have an open mind, that’s the only way you’re ever going to learn in this world. That is why you are here, in my opinion. If people don’t have an open mind, they probably won’t listen to us anyway.
That Is true. But I was very relieved when I saw that.
The word “Satan’ is even in there.
Tom Warrior, from Celtic Frost, was so angry toward your earlier lyrics because he thought that, by you not explaining anything in songs like “Black Masses” that you were subverting children. I had to laugh at him when he told me that. But he was an enemy of yours in that regard. He did not approve of such demonic words. I know that on that King Diamond album, there are a lot of nasty things going on lyrically. But there is a warning about the events not being glorified by the listener. Perhaps you would like to talk about that.
First of all, all King Diamond albums deal a lot with the human mind, and what’s going on in the present time. Even stories like “Abigail” that took place in the I8th century. This new story does take place in the present time. But there’s always been that part in there. There’s the story, for those that don’t want to get deeply involved in anything. That’s fine, because buying the album should be entertaining. But for those who do want to go in deeper, there is always a question being asked, trying to make people think… make up their own minds about certain things. That’s what I like to do – raise questions about subjects that people might not always be thinking about – not telling them what they should do or what’s right and wrong, because it’s all individual – but definitely raising questions. You’re never going to solve problems if you don’t talk about them. I know that there is beginning to be, for that very reason, some organizations speaking out a little bit more.
I know nothing about the Danish prison system. But I heard that in Sweden, murderers are given vacations from prison – maybe a weekend out of the month, to go home or something.
I don’t think murders are allowed to go home. But I know that they have some STRANGE rules. It’s because everything has to be so humanitarian. It goes for everything in this world. It’s always the bad guy that comes out on top. No matter what the hell they do, they have to be treated with kids gloves. They perform an action and they make a choice. They are aware of the consequences. Give them those consequences. But you’re right. You hear about these crazy things. ‘Open prison’ it’s called. They don’t put murderers in there. But there might be a wife beater or something like that, in jail for four or five years because he beat her into nothing. This guy will be allowed to go visit his family maybe once a month, followed by a prison guard or what do I know? They have TV’s, stereos… they have whatever it takes – “Well, they’re in there in that little room. They’ve got to have something.” They made the choice to end up in that room.
Wouldst you assume that every human being has a basic goodness?
I have always been reading that psychopathic people, or sociopaths, as they are called, are incurable. That is a real blow to the concept that everyone is good. But through studying the brains of criminals, it has been discovered that the front part Is not really as active in people who are impulsive killers. Do you think that punishing them in prison is the right thing to do?
I don’t think that people are innocent because of a momentary insanity. That can happen again. Should they just go free? “Oh, I didn’t know what I did. I’m so sorry. I wasn’t in control.” “Oh sure. We’ll let you go free because you didn’t know what you did. So there’s nothing bad in you. You’ll do it again. And then we’ll just talk to you again.” The problem is, there are certain types of humans that are not fit to live in a society.
This is true. My question was more about the treatment of these particular people in prison. The reason why I say that is, have you ever been so angry at a person that you would want to beat that person?
But something stops you. There is a censor. You are aware of the consequences, or perhaps it is just obvious that it would be the wrong thing to do.
It might be the right thing to do as well. If some guy was kicking in the door of my car. I think I know pretty much what I’d do to him.
But let us say it is just an argument. Let us say you are disagreeing over the new King Diamond album. What if some alien race, for one moment, took away your ability to censor impulsive thoughts, and you just went ahead and destroyed this other human being. Do you think that you are accountable, since you had no censor to use to stop yourself?
Of course I am. Who else would be accountable? The alien that you don’t have proof that exists? You have to go by rules and you have to go by known facts. That’s all you can go by. I do believe that there are other life in this universe. I think that it’s narrow-minded not to believe that there will be life somewhere out there in this thing that we live in that is so big that our brains can’t even comprehend it. But that doesn’t mean that people should not be held responsible for their actions, no matter what condition they’re under. If you kill somebody, whether you’re insane or not, there’s a good chance you’ll do it again, especially if people find out there is something wrong with you. Then you need to be kept away from society.
I agree with you about keeping the person away.
If you put them back out there, the same thing’s gonna happen again.
Why even keep a person alive, if the person is kept alive in humiliating conditions? Christians, who are most into the revenge against criminals… I mean, there is no other word for it… I do not see it as justice. I see it as revenge against the criminal. I just think it is hypocritical of people who pretend to live by the philosophy of “turn the other cheek” – when hit on one cheek, they want to instead of turning the other, they vengefully turn the person in. That might be one of the things that make people crazy – it is the radical theory of schizophrenia – that people just cannot accept the moral contradictions of reality and go into their own world.
But see, that’s a christian philosophy about ‘turn the other cheek.’ But again, a lot of the christian philosophy is not based at all on human instinct. And human instinct you just cannot take away, no matter which book you read or what movie you watch or whatever you do. Human instinct is something that is just there. It will make you react in a certain way to certain circumstances. Right? I know exactly what you’re saying, and this thing about some people believing in turning the other cheek – that’s fine. But if you really believe that strongly in it as you pretend, then live by it too. But they don’t live by it in many cases, right?
It is only when it is convenient – then you bring that thing up. But when it is a thing that suddenly affects you – it’s a different matter now.
I just want to make clear that I am not any kind of unrealistic humanitarian.
(laughs) Oh I know you’re not. I KNOW.
Do you think that a lot of people who are that way, and who defend criminals to no end – if they had a personal tragedy, if some person came into their house and mutilated the entire family, would they still have the same attitude?
You KNOW it’s gonna change ANYBOY’s viewpoint. You know it is. It doesn’t matter what god you believe in, as soon as those things come into the picture then things always get twisted out of proportion because people can’t teach a religion to themselves. They always have to judge others by their own religion, not realizing that hey, other people are different. That’s why we are called individuals. If you can’t respect that, then you don’t even have respect for yourself. I know that it’s so easy that when nothing bad has happened to you to put yourself on a pedestal. You’re up there and you’re like, “Oh no, you’re not doing this right.” I haven’t experienced any of these really bad things, Fortunately, knock on wood and all this stuff. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t get emotional when I talk about all these things, or when I see what’s going on around the world. That really affects me a lot. That’s because I have an extremely open mind. There’s a lot of people that don’t have that. And seeing that is like, “God damn!’ But that’s the way this world is.
Humanitarians need to temper their attitudes. They should just act, FEELING that they are good instead of needing to PROVE that they are good… it appears that we have strayed quite far from music.
This is interesting shit to talk about, for sure. But it’s also very difficult to get around in the right way. It has a lot to do, when you’re talking about these things, with your spiritual background – of how you see different things, of how you are ALLOWED to see different things. There are ways of killing too, right? You also kill in wars. You can, without being prosecuted. How do you tackle that subject?
Would kill if you were a soldier?
You can’t say until you know the circumstances. It completely depends on that. If I were in my dad’s shoes during the second world war, when he was a freedom fighter in Denmark and had to flee to Sweden because his group was discovered by the SS, or somebody squealed who the SS had gotten a hold of and talked under torture. I might have had to escape to Sweden at the bottom of a fishing boat. That was after he had been a freedom fighter for years. If I were in his situation, yes, sure. I would have killed to preserve my country. I’m sure that there were some Germans who felt like they were in the right to do what they did. That’s where we get into another crazy thing. What is right and what is wrong? They’re so individual. That Husein thinks he’s actually right because something tells him in an old book that this and this and this territory should belong to him. At least, that’s how he interprets an old book. He can’t believe anybody else can’t see it. But that’s this world. That’s human beings. There are no perfect solutions.
Isn’t that a spice of life?
Exactly. Without it, there wouldn’t be life. You can’t describe a good day if you’ve never had a bad day. All this stuff that we’re talking about has a lot to do with my personal spiritual beliefs. I don’t know where I’ve taken it from – I haven’t seen it in any book. But I have my own views. I do believe that it might take several lives for the power that we all have in us – it might take that power several lives in a human shell to have experienced all possible feelings that you can experience before you’re ready to move on to a completely different life form. That’s the only reason I’ve ever been able to give myself for why a two-year-old kid dies. But it does make sense if that power, having lived eight lives, by that time – two years old – that child has experienced what was needed to go on to a new life form. You don’t have to be on earth anymore. There’s no point for you to be here.
Or that child could have died so young to serve as a lesson for other people going through their journeys.
That Is true. If you had to experience all experiences that there are to experience, then there are a lot of things that make sense when you think about good and bad. It makes total sense to me that, if you imagine how many powers are in people here on earth, I believe some of them are first-timers, some of them may be fifth-timers. But a fifth-timer that is here gaining experience and knowledge has thoughts – four other lives – sometimes there are more of the powers here to experience bad stuff because they already have gone through some good experiences in other lives. Now it’s mainly bad stuff they need to experience. It’s hard to explain this. I could go on for hours. But those are a few of the points.
Because your beliefs and attitudes are so non-traditional, you must have had contact with judgmental people.
Yeah. If you don’t have an open mind, I can see it immediately. I don’t even want to associate with those people. You’ve got to have an open mind. Otherwise you can’t have a discussion. They will always feel that, no matter what, they’re always right. You’ve got to be willing to listen to another person. That’s the only way that you will learn. I’ve learned SO much stuff by having an open mind – things that I thought were like this or that – I found out “Hey! Wait a minute. That guy was right.’ I’m sure everybody has to experience all powers. I’m not saying every single human being on the earth right now has to experience the killing of another human being. But I think that I probably already have. Maybe I was even a witch hunter during the Inquisition. Maybe that’s why I’ve been writing some of the stuff I have now.
To atone for the past.
That is a possibility, yeah. I might have killed too. It might have been in a war. It might have been in self defense. It could be many ways because you can get the same feeling from many different actions. You have to go through every feeling – not every single action possible. It’s feelings we’re talking about. That’s my personal belief.