Interview with Fenriz and Nocturno Culto
How do you look upon your new album – in comparison with previous Darkthrone works – and in what way should the title The Cult Is Alive be perceived?
Fenriz: The title is, as usual, meant to be perceived in any way the viewer feels; to me, it means a whole lot of various things, but the cult of Darkthrone is alive and well (and so is The Cult of Goliath). And with this title we also honour Poison’s (Germany) Into the Abyss 1987 demo. The album is the speedway sound, free with wind in our hair.
Why did you decide to release a single with Too Old, Too Cold and how did you come up with the (rather terrific) idea of a Siouxsie and the Banshees’ cover? How have people been accepting it?
Fenriz: I do not read reviews other than in the newspaper I hold (Aftenposten), so I don’t really know or care what people think of the cover. I don’t care how Celtic Frost’s cover of Wall of Voodoo was received either so, other than that, I think it was a genius choice and an extremely cool cover song. The single idea wasn’t mine; in fact, I never have any ideas for Darkthrone – that’s why Ted has A LOT and, sometimes, I have to say yes to some of them to keep the momentum in this life-project called Darkthrone.
You’ve also established a new Necrohell for your latest recordings, so how does it feel like in comparison with the standard studio setting and how would you describe a typical Darkthrone recording session? How often do you rehearse?
Fenriz: We NEVER had a typical studio session; meaning: we never did a standard routine. Every time it has been wildly different, and I often hate being in the studio. But now we are very settled already with our new Necrohell, it seems. Ted knows how to run it and we set it up where we rehearse every time we record, which we now do in SEGMENTS (meaning: a couple of songs every 2, 3 months, or so). That way it looks like we’ll have albums out every 1 and a half years. From the outside, it always seems like bands do ALBUMS, but we are in a continuous writing AND recording process now. For instance, I have already been writing for our 13th album, Fuck Off and Die, since October, and we recorded the first couple of songs before The Cult Is Alive was even released.
Peaceville’s releasing your new material, so why did you decide to leave Moonfog and how does it feel to be working with your former label like? Speaking of which, how are things with Tyrant Syndicate Productions?
Fenriz: Ted had a long and great relationship with Peaceville, and this wasn’t the first time that a label change was an up and running idea either. The people there are just THE BOMB too, so we have always been super lucky with labels, really. I know nothing about the business aspect of things, so…
With Tyrant Syndicate Productions – WHICH I EARN NO MONEY ON (it’s not my job) – things are going as slow as we want. The Old album is set for release in September and we’ve signed Abscess (Chris Reifert is one of our “heroes” since the past)!
I read that you’re producing a video in connection with your standpoint on Black Metal, Norwegian ethos and a few other things.
Nocturno Culto: It’s not a standpoint on Black Metal, but rather a strange journey through diverse Norwegian culture. But there is a Metal link to it all, since Darkthrone and other bands appear in the film as well. I like to see it as a combined documentary with fiction. It’s important to point out that this is not a professional film by any standards, but the viewers are getting many close-ups in different situations regarding bands and Norwegian nature and culture. It’s a slow film, but a soothing experience for those who find it interesting. I’m really looking forward to finish this thing off (I’ve been working with it over a period of 4 years now… I’m slow).
Since you’re one of the Norwegian forebears along with Burzum, Immortal and Mayhem, how do you look upon the way things have evolved within the genre? Can we actually speak of a genuine Black Metal sound being performed these days? And what’s the criteria that helps you to make a distinction between the authentic and the disposable?
Fenriz: The second wave of which you speak of had some good albums, but the sound was quickly being warped into some plastic modern Metal sounding shit since 1994 and that helped OLD-SCHOOL being misunderstood as the 91-93 bands – which is for me the NEW-SCHOOL or second wave Black Metal. All my inspirations lie in the 80s and 70s and it has always been this way. But now people are so new-school that when they hear a TOTAL old-school album like The Cult Is Alive they think it is a new direction (laughs)!
The Norwegian forefathers of REAL Metal are early Mayhem, Vomit and Impostor.
One of the older and classic Norwegian Black Metal bands (Emperor) reunited last October; how do you look upon their comeback and, in general, how do your perceive this sort of get-together events? Are there any bands you’d like to see doing the same thing?
Fenriz: I never liked reunions. I like bands that never did quit, like Morbid Angel, Bolt Thrower, Slayer, Metallica, Impetigo (?) and Nun Slaughter (?) (laughs), but I think you understand what I mean.
I think Emperor might be classic Black Metal to you (“Classic Norwegian Black Metal”, as I put it. – Ed.), but then we are talking about two different worlds. Classic Black Metal to me is Venom.
Did you ever think of approaching other Metal techniques within the boundaries of Darkthrone? Haven’t you ever felt musically imprisoned due to such musical constrictions? And what’s the primeval thing that still makes you tick after all this time?
Fenriz: We always played Thrash and Speed Metal riffs too, only not the way it is traditionally played – rather the Darkthrone way. The typical Darkthrone sound has been mixing Death, Doom, Thrash Metal, Rock and Punk to make our type of Black Metal, so being restricted isn’t our style – although not a lot of wimp stuff fits in the Darkthrone box (laughs). We even did a totally monotone album (Transilvanian Hunger) and then went on to make totally different stuff. Also, on our various albums it varies A LOT who in the band actually wrote the music.
To wrap up, tell me about any artists you’d like to recommend and your future goals for Darkthrone and Tyrant Syndicate Productions. Should we ever expect you to be caught up in another project – not only as a musician but also as a producer?
Fenriz: My only producer idea would be to take a normal recording, then record it on tape, then record it on tape again, maybe distort it, then recording it on tape again, then BOOSTING the whole recording onto another tape, etc. And it wouldn’t cost much, except my mind’s collapse if the projects failed to give the sound I was looking for. But people should NOT CONTACT ME concerning this idea: I don’t need new friends.
Today I recommend Parliament (from 75-79), ZZ TOP (the Degüello album from 1978, at least), DJ Rupture mix, Vomitor (Australia, the 2002 album Bleeding the Priest), Thrust’s Fist Held High (U.S.A. 1984) and, of course, Mayhem – the fuckin’ Mayhem album from 1987 (huge inspiration for me in Darkthrone).
I never had any goals for Darkthrone from the moment we got a record deal – and I got that in 1989. I only want to continue doing REAL bastard Metal that has its roots in 70s heavy Blues-based Rock and Punk.