UNRELEASED photo by ELIN NAPER
By: Mike Abominator
This is an interview that is almost 2 years old that I did with Fenriz. It originally appeared in my friend’s webzine called THE WERKSHED. And it also was featured in an issue of a local magazine run by some friends called BULLDOZER. It is a cool interview and I felt the need to get it spread out a bit since Fenriz doesn’t do a lot of interviews and I know the maniacs are interested! So enjoy this one. This was done a little before “Circle The Wagons” was released.
1. Hails Fen. Thanks for taking the time to talk. Darkthrone has come a long way since 1988, then the “Land Of Frost” demo, to “A Blaze In The Northern Sky” and now to ” Dark Thrones And Black Flags” (and yes of course everything in between). Looking back, are you happy with the music that you guys have contributed to the history of metal?
FENRIZ: i guess i could answer that really shortly or just submit a long movie about my entire life. What dazzles me is all the hate mail out there, i mean i basically fought for raw metal for almost 25 years with this band now, and some people just see the fact that i turned my back on the TYPICAL black metal from 1993/4-2004, like i always move away from anything that goes bad. I am not the one to sit out a party when the idiots arrive…so i’ve watched thrash metal die, death metal die and i moved on to black metal in 91 because that still was STILL NOT IFESTED WITH MODERN SOUND at the time. black metal was the only style not to have plastic sound in 1991, and stayed so until 1993 when people started recording black metal with trigger drums and shit as well. so yeah, i’m proud and righteous. and people don’t know me at all, they think they know me from one drunken interview with Rock Hard. That’s way sad.
2. In the past, we have talked about some who feel that Darkthrone have “turned their back” on black metal. Should they get their heads out of their asses and just appreciate GOOD METAL?
FENRIZ: as mentioned earlier, they are FOLLOWERS…they need the security of the NICHE, and become very secured and hurt like tiny babies when someone walks away from what they think is “them”. Until atlest 92, black metallers were outcasts and individualists that KNEW they were making the true organic sound recordings that would last in the future..what will NOT last is typical death metal from 95 or typical ”black metal” from 98. The problem occurs when a great style like BLACK METAL 81-91 gets totally clinical and copycatted BUT the people and the press STILL calls the invalid style for..”black metal”. How can i be a part of that? beats me. i am still black metal as hell, but only the original ORGANIOC style, i don’t support all the plastic copies, no sir.
3. Your music tastes are vast and you like a few different types of “metal”, talk a bit about that. I guess the one thing those style that you like have in common is the production/sound aspects? More of an “old school” sound?
FENRIZ: It has something to do that my mind is so open, it’s almost on the brink of having a hole in my head, hehe…like frank zappa said, “the mind is like a parachute, it doesn’t work if it ain’t open”. i liked most of the original metal styles of early-mid 80s, the styles that came from 70s hard rock/heavy blues based rock/prog rock and PUNK. so this means NWOBHM, us POWER METAL, sPEED METAL, HEAVY METAL, THRASH, BLACK, METALPUNK, DOOM and so forth. the TYPICAL styles of the decade. remember all decades have typical RHYTHMS too, and i like most of the typical 80s metal drum styles…as much as i DISLIKE the typical 90s drum styles, and yes i know to some extent that i was part of that trend. But if i am not allowed to learn from my mistakes..then fuck those who say i can’t, because – i CAN and i DID. production? i will never tolerate triggered drums. my ears are allergic to it. the 80s brought a lot of plastic sounds into all studios of the world, a lot of experimentations, a cold clinical plastic sound. i don’t mind it used for cock rock stupid “metal” or even the drum machines that suddenly entered zz top..it was when this sound spread to OUR metal that i started the war. early example is “release from agony” with Destruction. horrible modern sound. or suddenly the soulless drums of King Diamond, when the drums of Mercyful Fate was soooo godly and organic sounding. In short, my war continued for 20 years until 2009, we could see that even KISS, having 25 years of modern plastic drums sound, FINALLY decided to have more of a dry organic 70s drums sound on their new album. i rest my case. but the fight continues, because “extreme” metallers are always the last to GET IT, to GET THE POINT. the point being : YOU. CAN. NOT. WRAP. YOUR. RAW. METAL. IN. PLASTIC. CLINICAL. SOUND. PRODUCTION. atleast if you want me to listen to it.
4. I know myself and quite a few thousands of other people have enjoyed your “Band Of The Week” blog on the Darkthrone myspace page. What made you decide to start that up and share your love of metal with the masses?
FENRIZ: Thank you for asking this. i was getting free mixes from RA site, and i enjoyed that a lot in decemer 2008, at the same time i got a link to IN SOLITUDE (the swedish band) and it instantly blew me away. then i thought: “i have 53 000 people that sign up as friends here, and many of them read my blogs. I am tired of the music lists i make, i just discovered a hot new band, so why not share this band with all the readers?” well, now the friend amount has reached nearly 60 000 and every 6th day (cirka) i have posted up a new band for all the music freaks to click on and hear. it seems A LOT of people has noticed my initiative and support this movement THAT IS 110% UNCOORUPTABLE – it is simply MY music taste that i share. what hurts me most is when people actually ask “what will it take for us to become band of the week?”. i think they have missed the point by asking that, it’s a sure way that i will NOT check their band. anyway i had to stop answering messages on myspace because it was a time stealer from the get-go and then it snowballed on me, so…
5. How was your experience with the film “Until The Light Takes Us”? How was it to re-visit those early days of the black metal scene? How did the producers get in contact with you? Also have you seen the movie?
FENRIZ: i have not seen the movie, i haven’t wanted to. it was a long time ago, in a confused part of my life, i was struggling to get out of a depression too, so it’s fair to say the 2010 fenriz would KICK THE LIVING SHIT out of the 2001-2002-fenriz, as i would with the 1994-fenriz, haha. the early days of the black metal scene was for me a time where there was no scene, it was the 80s and i was not part of it. if you refer to being asked about the early 90s here in norway, i get questions about that every week, i can never escape it although it holds little value to me what happened then compared to the black metal MUSIC i hail from the 80s. Aaron and Audrey contacted me via the record label i was on at the time, they seemed to be very smart people, and they also turned out to be just that. So i like to be in contact with them, the fiming was more of a hassle haha
6. Now Darkthrone has a label called Tyrant Syndicate Productions. What are some of the releases that are planned for in 2010?
FENRIZ: one problem with being KNOWN is that what one is into or makes, kinda..HANGS years after…i try to explain: when i got into CRUST it was 1998. my big crust period was ’98 – 2004. But when do you think the rest of y’all found that out? when was it a commonplace knowledge that i liked crust? not 98 or 2001 when it would really have mattered to me to hear new bands…no, people got it in like 2007, when i had already filled my braind to the max with that style! also, when the sublabel TYRANT SYNDICATE was granted us by Snapper music, it was in 2004, and we only wanted to sign a couple of band THAT WE ALREADY LIKE. this is how a sublabel should be run, like Necrosis in the old days (Carcass guys). But when do people react? they firstly think we are looking for bands to sign (we NEVER were, we only wanted to sign some bands we know could need some help and that we already liked) and they got the message WAY TOO LATE anyway, because Ted decided to fold the label about a year ago. I told him from the beginning it would snowball on him and that it wasn’t that good an idea, but he went for it anyway…until it got to be too much. Anyway the ABSCESS album coming now will be the last on that SUBLABEL. we reached almost no-one with that label, BAND OF THE WEEK reaches MUCH further!!!
7. You have had numerous side projects and releases over the years including helping Satyricon and Aura Noir, to the Engangsgrill album, to your own projects like Isengard, Neptune Towers, Dodheimsgard, Strom, and Valhall. Talk about these bands and how do you find the time to do all of this?
FENRIZ: since 2001 i ONLY did darkthrone, i can easily make 4-5 songs a year, in 1993-1995 i made 4 records A YEAR. so i got burnt out, people think DT releases a lot the last 10 years, but it’s nothing, i just make 4 songs a year and people say we release a lot? BUTT THAT!! i could easily make 156 songs a year, but i prefer working 2-3 months on every darkthrone song now. just made a song for VALHALL too, first one i made for them since 93. but i don’t play in that band, nor did i play in other bands since 2001. all that belonged to the stinking 90s. why did you mention satyricon? i played tambourine on 5 seconds of music, and now i suddenly helped them? that was in the shitty 90s too anyways, by the way ALL those bands or projects you mentioned was spawned in the 90s and probably should never have happened. but they did, so others can listen to it as long as i don’t have to. there are some good stuff there, like the FENRIZ RED PLANET tracks from 93 (the one you refer to as engangsgrill), isengard demo is from 1989 and it was the first one man metal band to play all instruments AND rig studio AND record on it’s own, i think. this age, a guy with a drum machine and a guitar plugged into the computer can call itself a one man band? again, the definition of something gets warped, and what i did as a one man band suddenly becomes so different that i no longer want to be a part of the term – just what happened to black metal and death metal etc. AURA NOIR i did vocals for, and it’s the band that i am proud to have helped a bit, and also they released THE BEST ALBUM OF THE 2000′s, namely HADES RISE. that band was consitently good throughout the 90s AND 00′s, not many has managed to do that! HAIL!!
8. Are there any plans of Darkthrone playing live in the near future? Maybe not touring, but how about a festival appearance?
FENRIZ: we got the biggest offer to play Wacken, 200 000 usa dollars plus expenses in 2007, then in 2008 was the offer from HELL FEST or what that french (?) festival was called..they offered 90 000 euro, which is 150 000 dollars. that equals be 2 years pay from my day job. but i kept my day job since 1988 to NOT having to do stuff with darkthrone that i don’t want to do. so i didn’t even answer those festivals. there is no money in the world making me go on stage and be a priest to a human flock. instead i would like to play a small club under another name, so no one would know, only a few to spread the word. But if i sometime in the future want to play live, i will do it. but for the last 19 years, my religion has been NOT PLAYING LIVE. if bathory could resist, so can i. hail Quorthon!!!
9. I know that we can read the blogs or check the albums, but off the top of your head, what albums have you been listening to recently non stop both new and old?
FENRIZ: i write all music releases i get/buy/trade for every year down on a list. in 2009 i got 550 music releases. try to explain how much stuff i have to listen to that i don’t even WANT to listen to. then try to figure out if i can have time in my life to listen to something non stop, when every day i get 2 new albums. so there are no constants, but some albums or demos i like more than others, lately i got hooked finally to AJA by STEELY DAN (1977), also i am freaking out about the forthcoming HELLISH CROSSFIRE album that i got on advance cassette, “bloodrust scythe”. buy it when it comes out!!
10. When can we expect the next Darkthrone album?
FENRIZ: we started writing on the new album in summer 2008, i was at my local Cinemateque and saw an old swedish movie when i got the idea for a song, and that became BRÄNN INTE SLOTTET for our forthcoming album CIRCLE THE WAGONS. it is out in february LP and march CD, i think. about the title, think of it as native america is CLASSIC metal. then comes the pioneers with their MODERN METAL. the pioneers has to CIRCLE THEIR WAGON for the indian-attack. (yeah, i say indians like belladonna did in 87, native americans is just so…what do you call it when you change a term to assimilate better?…semantics?) the album is a mix of HEAVY METAL and SPEED METAL PUNK with both raw and clean vocals. We have very organic sound and VERY dry drum sound, and also now finally, the most anti-90s of it all: only ONE bass drum. (except for one song, hahah, next album will be “ONLY ONE BASS DRUM IS REAL” hehe)..
11. OK man, that’s it. Thanks again for your time. Any last words to say?
FENRIZ: yeah, i don’t mean people should stop playin double bass drums, it’s just i felt it was right for me, and also it is a scene-political move i believe in.