Darkthrone interview with Fenriz: "I wouldn't have been anywhere without all the 80s metal"

11/02/2013 @ 13:06
The opportunity to communicate with one of the most important personas of the extreme metal scene is definitely something special and interesting. Even more interesting is the trend of Fenriz to express his passion and dedication to music and especially to the '80s metal. The upcoming new release of Darkthrone was a chance to contact him and to present us some of his thoughts for the new record, for Darkthrone, but also to suggest upcoming releases from his own perspective.

The sound of your new album seems more solid than the previous ones. Which do you think are the differences between "The Underground Resistance" and the previous three-four Darkthrone albums?
Just the mastering, and the heavier focus on heavy and speed and various 80s metal genres. This time, as coincidence, there are almost no punk vibes. Mastering added a better mesh, an organic bass punch a la "Morbid Tales" by Celtic Frost, and some overall reverb. We’ve added slowly more and more bass on every album since "Transilvanian Hunger". But that was not an exact plan either.

DarkthroneIn your new album, you express your preference for the 80s metal scene, once again. Why do you have this special attraction for that period?
I grew up then, all the greatest metal styles were mixed and formed then. All music has magic decades, Metal has the 80s. But I also grew up in the 70s and have the 70s as favourite number 2.

Do you feel that what you do is an informal tribute to the metal music of that period?
Well, I can only speak for my own songs, and they sound like a lost tape from ‘85 or ‘84 I think, so if someone wants to discuss it (I am sure they will do) I will not see it or listen to it, as I am busy with life and metal but I have said my piece – it sounds like lost stuff from that era. I think rather than just copying Judas Priest or something, I am at least showing a mix of early 80s styles even if it’s not very totalitarian in any way

Darkthrone - The Underground ResistanceThe song "Valkyrie" contains an intense epic atmosphere in the vein of old speed metal bands. This epicness is something that we are not used by Darkthrone. How did you decide to write such a song?
I didn’t decide, it came to be rather by coincidence. The refrain already came into my head at work in March or April 2010 and I had to hum it into my mp3 player to record it. Later I think the refrain is a bit like "How Many Tears" by Helloween, partly. Then nothing happened for 1 and a half year when finally I wake up in September 2011 (I really like September) with the start riff in my head. It sounded too much like the ideas of March by Iron Maiden 1981 so I had to arrange it differently and what came to me was the slow heavy drive of "Gypsy" (Uriah Heep 1970) and so it was original. Then came the verse, I just had to make that myself, inspired by myself and felt like some old 1984 Swedish speed metal maybe. Then at the end I repeat the first riff only with some extra harmony played by me on guitar.

DarkthroneWhere do you receive inspiration from, musically and lyrically?
We all receive inspiration, constantly. We just choose what NOT to do. I think this goes for all people. But I wouldn’t have been anywhere without all the 80s metal, except I would probably play 70s heavy style or late 60s. Like "Waiting For The Sun", song by the Doors. Very heavy and very great and was the first rock Lp I got in 1973, which had that song on it. "Morrison Hotel". It’s still always with me, right now just 3 metres away from my reach in my vinyl shelves.

Compared to the past, which are the differences between that period and the current one in the way you create music, record an album and the sources of inspiration as well the differences of that Darkthrone and the present one?
We’ve had many pasts. What we are closest to now is the 1988 song "Snowfall", the first to be recorded with Ted as guitarist. We had acoustic guitar as well then (well, guitars without fuzz, didn’t have a studio then and not good enough studio on "Thulcandra" demo). But back then our evolution was so fast, we wanted to fly before we could even run, but we made it – but epic metal got left behind after "Thulcandra" demo. Then there was some epic stuff in the "Kathaarian Life Code" song many releases after and then "Quintessence" song was epic in 1994. And then we did some epic stuff again, when we finally got our own portable studio, I know we did some epic stuff on the "Church Of Real Metal" in 2007. And so at the same time I started doing more and more speed metal as I was never discovering much of that when I was 10-14 years old, I had no money or not much knowledge and if I could choose I only had time for thrash since 85/86 MOSTLY but not always. Anyway, now with internet there is so much of the lost metal to discover again, stuff from 79-85 mostly, so I had to play this style too. But I mixed it with punkish vibe too, like 1985 style also, but on the new album it’s more plain speed metal. Ted's songs are more a polaroid of the hard metal styles of the 80s, I think.

DarkthroneIs there a Darkthrone album that you regret for and if you had the chance you would make it totally different?
We had two mixes of "Total Death" but the one I liked got ruled out. Anyway many of my songs have been a bit too varied, I should force myself to make them simpler maybe, but then again a lot of folks seem to like that I use tempo shifts and slow and middle and fast stuff on and off, so I don’t know, I make what I make and what I like of course, but I am almost never sure of my choices concerning slow/mid/ fast parts.

Is there a particular album or period of Darkthrone that you prefer most?
The one I live now of course, as being into music means you are able to cease the moment. But apart from that I mostly like certain parts or riffs or just in some cases, whole songs. I am a dj too, so I am like that with a lot of albums, I just pick my favourites and move on.

Is there anything that can make you to play live or this is just waste of time for you?
I don't have time to waste! I could write book-series about why I don’t want to play live, but I can also never say never.

Fenriz (Darkthrone)What do you remember from the early days of the Norwegian scene?
That no journalists wrote about the heavy stuff. So it was magic when I finally discovered Norwegian maniac mags Slayer and Die Hard and later Damage INC mag and so on and so on, and that we too had great bands like Mayhem and Vomit. But I had already started my own band before hearing them, and was more inspired by Celtic Frost, I didn’t have the drum skills to play like Mayhem or Vomit in 1987!! Or even in 1988. They were rawer than us back then, much rawer. I saw my first Mayhem rehearsal at Vevelstad in October 1987, Vomit Torben and Kittil were session players, I think maybe Kittil on vocals and definitely Torben on drums. Then I remember all the postal money orders I sent out in the world to buy demos. And then our own rehearsals as Black Death at Sofiemyr Kolbotn. I remember I was tiny and looked wimpy, I was still in school but anyway the Mayhem people didn’t shut me out. Lucky for me. I remember our first gig in Ski Rådhus, Follorocken in spring 1988, I still have the horrible sounding tape of that, one good song actually, rawer than "Snowfall", still epic, we only did that song in the rehearsal place and on that gig. Ted was in the audience, he had to see the band before he decided to join or not. Half a year later I saw my first gig, after I played a gig myself it took half a year before I myself saw another band live (except for the posers playing the follorock with us, the other bands I mean).

Do you follow the current developments of the Norwegian scene and the current black metal scene in general?
Please just check My Band Of The Week webpages for my taste in metal and what I like and recommend. Yep, but mostly the thrash bands, It was always my main genre up to now, so I always used to know the thrash bands. And death. And doom. I am the only one to play speed metal here, so the speed metal scene is very easy to follow, haha. The black metal bands from Nidaros scene seem best now. Like Mare, One Tail One Head, Black Majesty, Vemod, Dark Sonority.

DarkthroneWhat kind of music are you fond of this period? Can you propose any bands that you distinguish?
Heavy metal: Titan can be good, we are waiting for the Black magic Lp, Magister Templi Lp, new Darkthrone, Devil... Then there’s always Faustcoven and Deathhammer and Aura Noir to play black metal but it’s 80s black metal more, not 90s black metal. 90s black metal are so many that it’s futile to mention. Concentrate on Nidarosian scene I mentioned earlier. We can hope Lamented Souls will play doom metal again. And Nekromantheon and Audiopain are thrashing hard now, hopefully new release from Audiopain. Death metal will see Obliteration Lp coming, we also hope for Diskord and Execration. Then there are Virus and Okkultokrati that are good bands on their own. Special freaks can hear Furze. We have Purple Hill Witch which I still haven’t heard yet. We got hard thrash with Blood Tsunami’s upcoming album. We have Mion’s Hill which is just great. And the southernes from Toxic Death. Infernö played live last year but don’t know what will happen, anyway, a lot of bands are playing now, also the Gouge/Condor guys are making heavy metal with a side project. Condor album will be out this year. In Hardcore it seems Haraball and Shipwrecked are definitely coolest now. But I just write all this from my head, I must have forgotten many bands, like Spectral Haze. Nettlecarrier and Isvind are doing 90s BM. Hellstorm plays crazy old metal. Tusmorke plays 70s highly original stuff, not like all the rest of the 70s bands. We got doom metal like Resonaut and stuff. We also have a lot of crap bands but who doesn’t? modern stuff, or experimental stuff that doesn’t work and hurts a veteran’s ears.

What can we expect from Darkthrone in the future?
Me listening to "By-Tor And The Snow Dog". We make no plans.

Thank you very much for your time.