DARKTHRONE Hiking Metal Punks Forever!

It is needles to say that we at Metal Sound worship Darkthrone, so every time they release the new album we are there to chat with Fenriz. This is my second time to exchange a few words with this living legend, and he even topped our previous, fantastic interview with his great answers! Read on, enjoy and worship the true…Bow to Darkthone!
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Hell-o, Fenriz! This is my second time to do an interview with you (you can check out the first one here if you want : darkthrone). So my first question would be – how are you these days, how does life treat you?
Hello again!! in fact, life has never been better. the typical comment i get on myspace, for instance, is: fenriz, you drink too much, or: fenriz, always drunk. but i got ’em all fooled. i used my whole youth to work in the underground global metal underground, i didn’t have a normal youth where one hangs with friends or have your first beers or anything. because of metal i was from age 14-19 totally possessed and didn’ have time for anything elese, i even squit school and started in a regular day job when i was 16 to get money for darkthrone equipment and so on. this i did also because i had a dream since i was a kid in the 70s to record albums and get a record deal (NOT to play live). After i got the record deal i realized i had become a lone wolf, i had missed my youth. so i started partying and drinking. and when i start something, i tend to go all the way. also, the underground was in 1990 not as cool as before, thrash had died, death metal was dying a bit, and i had worked hard in the underground for 3 years and i guess the whole ME needed a biiig brake. so the drinking period (hanging out at all the Oslo rock bars etc) lasted from 1991-2003, mainly. in this period, the underground had little to offer me, i didn’t like the styles of metal that came in the 90s. the mid and the late 90s was directly CRAP for me, when it came to metal. i enjoyed only a few bands from this time (my favourite was skullkrushing armageddon with IMPIETY i guess, and angel corpse too … and swedish GEHENNAH and mercenary album by bolt thrower..this was typical of the few metal stuff i liked in 98 99. BUT THEN i met Oscar from OLD (Germany) in 2003 and he showed me a new underground! a whole new 80s underground, with lots of new kids that didn’t give a fuck about copying the 90s style or modern sound, but instead they played various thrash black or speed metal sounds from early 80s, totally barbaric. so the reason why my life has never been better: I met my Elin in 2003 too, and she got me into TENTING in the forest, before i had basically only been walking, skiing and biking deep into the forest to take KJENTMANNSPOSTER and so on (google it). And i stopped smoking. and realized i had to cut down on going out on the town 5-6 times a week. a long process had started, where it was a race against myself to cut down on drinking (i have always competed against myself, i am a maniac when i start things). And i started to work in the global metal underground again. the phrase “true norwegian black metal” i gave away to Infernus of Gorgoroth at the time, i hadn’t made a song in that style in many many years anyway, i was interested in the 80s and in the mid 80s only MAYHEM was doing great work for the global underground in Norway, and ofcourse SLAYER MAG. late 80s came cadaver and darkthrone. In May 2005 i officially stopped going out at all. i have continued as a dj but i hate crowds so much that i say no to 19 out of 20 offers (FACT). i prefer to dj on self made compilation cd’s. In 2006 my undergound work exploded with my exploration of MYSPACE. i realized if one is interested in a decade, like 70s or 80s, one could become a better freak of these times with myspace, discovering new bands that played old styles from 80s and 70s and even 60s. i had now fought my drinking down to 3-4 times a week. In 2007 i saw even more of the metal 80s underground, and i had established (although through all my years in the scene too) a group of believers in MUSIC, a crew i myself call “ONE OF US”. i trade with them and they help me stay updated, one man can’t know all the good stuff in the 00s underground alone, and also we traded music from all sorts of styles and decades. i also started for my first time to run and lift weights at the health centre, and this was also thanx to Elin and it was even better for me because i got back into NEW YORK HARDCORE that i hadn’t been paying attention to since the 80s (and then a period in 94-96). So now it was important for me to see that less alcohol meant more serious global metal underground work! i was on top of things. In 2008 i finally got payed for all my forest interests since 1998, i had a breakthrough where i wrote a piece about old forest in the paper AFTENPOSTEN (major serious newspaper here) and then a professor of ecology contacted me so we could write a chronicle together in that same newspaper. he also went with on tent trips and has become a friend of mine (Mikael Ohlson). at the same time i am writing tent trip guides, being interviewed by several publications about the forest, i had established good contact with top chief of NATURVERNFORBUNDET Gjermund Andersen and so i write hiking tips for their fantastic 2009 calendar and finally a tv show called UT I NATUREN (out in the nature) had a 20 minute feature on me that you can see on our myspace blogs “FENRIZ ON TV”. This october i only drank beer 3 times and also in Nobember. and the battle even continues. i now have a lot of time for the underground and i discover new great speed metal and other old styles every week, keeping in contact with many old school bands, and i will show you this in a list later in the interview.

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“Dark thrones and Black Flags” is not already cold in its grave, and Ted have already issued an update where he said that you two are already hard at work on new release and that it will feature some twists and turns in sound and overall feeling. Can you reveal something about it to us, hordes of DarkThrone’s rabid fans?
HEY! of course, i have been working on my first song for the next album since JUNE. it’s a bit like the HIKING METAL PUNKS song, it’s my favorite tempo this Motorhead-fast kind of tempo, not faster than the fast songs of the YARDBIRDS in 1964, hehe. It seems i am making the speed, nwobhm, black, punk and rock type of songs. Ted is making the HEAVY METAL and doom/death songs

While we’re at it, I was always impressed by your ability to spawn such amount of great album in such a short time span. I certainly has something to do about your ways of recording and production, right? What connection do you have with your past releases? Do you ever get back to listen to it and go like “Oh, man, Transylvanian Hunger is such a great album” or you just need to unleash the demons, those melodies and music that dwell inside your head and go on?
More the last thing you said. always following our hearts and always making a new song these days. but the tempo isn’t that fast, i only have to make 4-5 songs a year. remember i made AND recorded this transilvanian hunger album in only 2 weeks. in early 70s it was normal for a band to release 2 albums in one years time AND tour!! I also think that these days we are making REAL metal, while the 90s stuff we did was mostly 80s inspired, it attracted pompous people. and i guess it was because in early 90s we were very pompous here in norway. otherwise it wouldn’t have become legendary. but it soon turned to shit, after 94 it had lost much of it’s original meaning to me, and i liked more bands like inferno and AURA NOIR and i always listened 95% to the 80s metal anyway. So we conclude with a list: this is what we listened to and still listen to when we talk about BLACK METAL and i say (to make people angry but most of all to THINK) that black metal was already perfect in 1989 OBSCURITY damnations pride demo 88 POISON into the abyss demo 87 MEFISTO demo 1 1985 MORBID december moon demo 87 or was it 88 haha MAYHEM deathcrush 87 (EXTREMELY important for me) and live in leipzig on tape years before it came out TREBLINKA demos and 7″ NECROVORE demo 87 first VADER demo with bad sound MORBID ANGEL abominations of desolation (on tape many years before it was released) MERCYFUL FATE SODOM 3 first DESTRUCTION 3 first VENOM BATHORY CELTIC FROST HELLHAMMER ROTTING CHRIST satanas tedeum demo 89 PENTAGRAM chile demos ONSLAUGHT power from hell POSSESSED SARCOFAGO inri SAMAEL worship him album (i never had demos or 7″, sorry) BLASPHEMY demo and album. MASTER’S HAMMER (songs from chech compilation and RITUAL album, also called THE FIST NORWEGIAN BM ALBUM hehehe) now you see where A BLAZE IN THE NORTHERN SKY came from. it had nothing to do with the 90s. we are not a 90s band. but our first albums came out then. THEN IN VERY EARLY 90S: I got into the grymyrk demo from THORNS in 91, IMMORTAL and most importantly VON and BURZUM. Also GORGOROTH demo and wrath of the tyrant by EMPEROR but the split with Enslaved. I only like the ENSLAVED side of that split. And then followed other bands. but as you can see at that time, 99% of our foundation lies in 80s. and black sabbath worship. and motorhead.

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I have found following statement by Ted – “The first song on our next album – not ‘Dark Thrones And Black Flags’, that was finished in July – its title is based on a mantra that Gezol of Japan (Sabbat, Metalucifer) has been saying a lot lately, ‘Too much black, too little metal.” But I think that it ceased a bit these days, more and more people are into old stuff again, what do you think? I mean, after all the experiments and shit, one must eventually go back to good SONGWRITING, and old metal has tons of that.
No! Where did you find that it was Ted who said this?! it was ME who said this! I do most of the interviews in Darkthrone, I always did. It was not finished in July; it was STARTED in June, as i earlier wrote. I can’t believe that i can say one thing in an interview – and it becomes TOTALLY twisted around and even like it wasn’t me who said it. uff, why does this happen sooooooooo much in the press? Yeah it ceased a bit these days because the underground i told you about earlier, new kids who laugh at the pompous BM that so many Italians like (Italian press turned their back on us because we now do REA metal instead of this feminine style of the 90s haha) and it also ceased because of our last 3 albums as i started making VERY OLD style of metal, even more old style than before. so you are totally right here. But remember – I just got a Russian interview where the person said “where is all these old type of bands you mentioned last year? I can only hear modern sounds still!” So it isn’t like everyone is suddenly listening to EXCITER’s heavy metal maniac (unfortunately! godly album!) you know? And to of people in the OVERGROUND just listens to what they get sent to their magazines. and the interesting bands in the underground that are making REAL metal like speed metal, they know this and doesn’t even bother to send their stuff to the overground. REAL METAL NOW STAYS UNDERGROUND! And I can prove it with my new theory, my “VOIVOD-THESIS”: in the 80s a band like Voivod became famous with a mix of raw punk and metal. can you picture a band sounding like WAR AND PAIN or RRROOOAAARRR breaking through and becoming big in the 00s? NO? it’s because today overground, market and audience is mainly wimpy and have grown accustomed to the click drums and pro tools that existed for little money since 1990. The 80s were a better place for raw metal, even in the overground. Metallica became the biggest band in the world with a record like KILL EM ALL. Today a band that is equally fresh, EVIL ARMY from USA…they can’t expect the same breakthrough because now–people have become soft in their ears and attitude. so IN THE UNDERGROUND WE SHALL DWELL. (by the way, Kill em All is an album BY ANALYSIS we are close to now – new Darkthrone also has rock punk vibes, nwobhm, speed, and also slow parts, thrash…)

Let’s go back to “Dark thrones and Black Flags”. You have continued the path you have paved on your couple of last albums, but I feel that this album has very much of that Black Metal feeling f.ex. opening riff of “The Winds They Called the Dungeon Shaker” is one of your darkest ever (that song has VoiVod-ish vibe, at least to these ears btw…). Elaborate on this…
Haha, my songs are explained in the liner notes of the booklet. THE BOOKLET: in 1996-2006 i had NO INTEREST in the visuals of Darkthrone. But on FOAD in 2007 i took control again and the booklet is now an orgy in showing our REAL lives, interest and pure 80s and 70s metal interest. I work on the booklet for MONTHS, the last one i worked on (on and off) for a HALF YEAR. So people need to get it. The opening riff you mention proves that we are not a retro band. the riff is TYPICAL early 90s riff, when it came into my head it was too good to be left alone, instead i arranged it like HIS HERO IS GONE would do it. then the next riff is inspired by a demo track from German ATLAIN from 84, and the 3rd riff is inspired by myself/Darkthrone and general metal/punk. But it is never planned, my songs just happens and then i have to think about tempos and what goes where. Then I made another pure black metal 80s riff (as usual) which opens the last song WITCH GHETTO (which is the 2nd hate song of typical MODERN music festival audience, when they dress up in their modern metal band shirts, high boots are SKIRTS with lots of stupid stuff on them and blue streaks in their hair HAHA). Actually that riff is one of the best riffs I have made. But it only seems to give people a Hellhammer-vibe. But that’s more than fine with me!! Also i ended 3 of my songs in TOTAL nwobhm style (hiking metal punks, hanging out in Haiger and witch ghetto). so that was new. this new wave of British heavy metal style of riff was actually ZEMIAL who inspired me to do, with their great parts on their face of the conqueror 12″. – Only I make those parts very traditional, like it was in early 80s, with our dirty studio sound like old Motorhead…so it becomes…DARKTHRONE.

You and Nocturno Culto split the songwriting duties here, and while your songs are in more anthemic and straight-forward vein, he did songs in doomier vein, and with those little guitar solos that are quite melancholic and sad like in f.ex. “Norway in September”, was that conscious decision?
Yeah, Ted has his song structures and I got mine. Usually very big difference, that’s why it says on the album cover VERY CLEARLY who writes what song. we didn’t write this so clearly before, i don’t know why, i guess i didn’t care. but after the recording of A BLAZE IN THE NORTHERN SKY, I said to the others “from now on we make songs on our own. it can’t be debated. it will be a three headed dictatorship.” So when Zephyrous quit, it has always been Ted and me, writing songs on our own and not asking each other about the song styles. we have to play and record what we present to each other. We take conscious decisions every single day in this band, but never discuss each others music or never lay long term plans. We let coincidences rule, THAT is conscious (sounds strange, but it’s a fact). we are not control freaks, we have balls to heavy mistakes and have an old and soulful sound. i feel bad about all the old bands that quickly wimped out SOUNDWISE, and old bands that reform don’t have the balls to continue their raw studio production of the 80s. Instead they usually go for more updated sound. that makes them just slaves to the LAME NEW WORLD OF METAL that really got power in our beautiful metal world since 93. And Jesus have no power in our metal word, but THESE MODERN METAL STUDIOS AND BANDS THAT CHOOSE THE MODERN METAL SOUND is the destroyer-Jesus of the metal world. So Darkthrone is an alternative for all those who are sick of the modern metal and think that metal sounded best in the 80s. i do not and will NEVER accept that someone thinks a metal albums has to have more modern sound that for instance OVERKILL “taking over”. Haha as a kid I thought that album was a bit too modern too haha. But I’m a maniac.

Also, the lyric for 3 Ted’s songs are not printed in booklet, why is that? And his thanks list is like ten times shorter than yours, and also you did whole lot of singing. Is he a bit shy these days, hehe?
Again, I told you earlier, we don’t ask each others about these things. The importance of not getting into each others faces is big. Why do you always see bands splitting up? They are getting too close for comfort. We in Darkthrone have great distance and very little curiosity. That’s why we last and can keep things fresh. We have played together since 1988, you know. The reason i do my singing is that it felt natural, also i was starting to write songs that needed lyrics written for them – before i just wrote lyrics and gave them to Ted so he could sing it like he needed. Since GRAVEYARD SLUT from 2005, I changed that. i had many side projects where i sang with my many voices since 1989. But now I use all that in Darkthrone. People who don’t like it can listen to TANGORODRIM (Israel) or ORCUSTUS (Norway) to get a better 90s feeling. I myself am going totally 80s and 70s as usual. So to conclude? You asked why Ted has a shorter list, doesn’t want his lyrics written – well, i can ask this too, but only in my mind. Asking him why would just be invading his privacy and we respect each other like that. Maybe you think this is cold – but remember we are Darkthrone AND Norwegians – WE INVENTED COLD hahhahahaha!!!

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Dennis Dread is again responsible for artwork and he did again killer job! On cover of “F.O.A.D.” your metal punk Mr. Necro has raised from the grave, is he carrying the unbelievers and posers in that carriage? Those guys seems like they are priests… And that tavern in the back, with the devil woman on the door… is that the “Witch Ghetto” (I think that song would make Tom G. Warrior proud btw).
Haha, it was a mistake with that woman, Dennis thought the song was called ghetto witch and that is was POSITIVELY meant. Instead, the song was called witch ghetto and is NEGATIVELY meant. so this is the sort of woman that probably likes modern metal if you see her at festivals, and should be avoided cuz it’s probably not a person that’s into real underground like DERKETA or TROJAN. You know. And most of the guys in metal look like her now, hhhahahahaha!! But as I said earlier, we have no problems with keeping mistakes. It makes it all interesting. CONTROL is so typical Christians anyway. We only give Dennis 2 or 3 ideas, then we have the balls to let him work up there in Portland, Oregon USA on his own – we don’t follow the process at all and so it is very exciting to see the final cover. We are extremely pleased; it ties in perfectly with the FUCK OFF AND DIE cover. My main idea for Dennis was the scene from THE QUEST FOR THE HOLY GRAIL.

Mr Necro has Nocturnal patch this time, and booklet is packed with mentionings to bunch of killer bands, old and new alike. As one guy have put “seems like guys from Darkthrone would rather sold their souls to Manilla Road than to Horned one these days”. Do you think that passion for music that you still have gave you the energy to do this all these years?
A BURNING HEART FOR UNDEERGROUND METAL IS NECESSARY! but also the flaming interest for the metal history from 80s 70s and 60s. we grew up with black sabbath, but we discover bands from before them as well, GUN, HIGH TIDE, FEVER TREE, many many bands from late 60s are heavy too and paved the ROAD OF KINGS – the road of heavy metal history. I have around 9000 albums, half of them with fuzz guitars. so it’s easy to make fresh metal. instead of most of the big bands, getting bored with metal and go touring all of the time like it’s a JOB to play metal—and then mostly get stuck with their old albums, only checking out the new albums their fans give them or the bands they tour with. to them it feels like they are winning, but deep in their hearts is a little voice that says……………………………YOU LOST!! I make music list blogs on our darkthrone official internet, our only alive web page. there everyone can see how many albums i got through each month. every work day (cuz i NEVER quit my day job) i have to listen to 2.3 albums or titles i haven’t heard before, then i can listen to what i want later. last year i had to listen to 3 every work day. (200 work days a year, and this year i already have 390 new, will end on about 440, that means 2.3 a day) last year it was well over 600, i think over 700 actually. i write them all down on a paper list so it’s no joke. we are talking SERIOUS music fanatism here. Here are some ACTIVE bands i support, it’s just some of them, but here we go: SPEEDTRAP, RAZOR FIST, CAST IRON, REPELLENT, HELLSHOCK, TRENCH HELL, WHIP, CHEMIKILLER, HELLREALM, HELLISH CROSSFIRE, BANSIHED FORCE, SLOGSTORM, ENSLAVED, BLUDWULF, DEATH BEAST, WAR CRIMES, BASTARDATOR, CREEP COLONY, TYRANT sweden, NATTEFROST, CORRUPT, WORLD BURNS TO DEATH, NEKROMANTHEON, ENFORCER sweden, NOCTURNAL, JEX THOTH, DEATHRONER, SONIC RITUAL, MДNIAC, NIFELHEIM, MORRIGAN headcult album, MORNE (Ted and me both support morne alot, usa slow punk like axegrinder, amebix), ALPHA CENTAURI, DEMON’S GATE, DOOMED BEAST, RESISTANCE, KARNAX, EVIL ARMY, WITCH usa, VIRUS norway, AURA NOIR, ORCUSTUS (as i mentioned before), LONEWOLF, THE DEVIL’S BLOOD (this years best release with COME, REAP), FARSCAPE, VOMITOR, OLD, DEATHHAMMER, EM RUINAS, SALUTE, THE BATALLION, ZEMIAL, GASMASK TERROR, EIDOMANTUM, PORTRAIT..etc.

Let’s talk a bit about song “Hanging Out in Haiger”, which is dedicated to your trip to Germany, to visit your friends in OLD. I must ask you – what were you headbanging to that night, was there any Witchfinder General as one line says “guided by the general’s eye” hehe? Also, I must tell you that your vokills reminded me quite a lot on mr Diamond’s work on first two Mercyful Fate albums, those prononciations of last words in line…
No, as i think it says in the liner notes, the clear vocals on that track is inspired by THE GENERALS EYE by the usa band (one of them) COVEN from their fantastic UG album “worship new god” that i was first introduced to in the car from the airport in frankfurt by Tim and Oscar from OLD. I was there from monday to thursday so we banged to EXTREMELY many bands, all metal styles from 60s-80s ofcourse. as you can see we like tons of new bands, but these bands play mostly very old styles. ofcourse we worship witchfinder general!! and angel witch, you don’t have to ask about it, this is typical what we listen to, but also scorpions, and not to forget songs from BUD SPENCER AND TERENCE HILL soundtrack. uber maxi headbanging electro-dart sessions from hell Oh, and the “don’t break the oath” album is one of the most important for me and Ted – overall. I have listened to that album constantly since 1985 i think

OK, man, that would be all. Until next time – take care and all the best! Thy last words…
Don’t forget to bring a towel/listen to manilla road!!!!

  • Interview done by Slobodan Trifunovic
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