Interview with Fenriz was conducted by Bill Zebub
Whenever I’ve read of Darkthrone in the older issues when the ‘90’s black metal scene first erupted, there was talk of a “Jewish conspiracy”. But it was never explained.
Maybe it’s the music business. (laughs) I don’t know. Fuck all that shit. I mean, the old black metal stuff weren’t really based on conspiration theories like that. When I think about the old days, that’s not what I’m thinkin’ about at all.
But do you know what Grishnak was speaking of when he was mentioning a Jewish conspiracy?
Who knows what he’s all about? He’s really deep into that stuff, you know? He’s politically engaged, and I’m not. Music has been taking over my life totally. So music is larger than life for me. I’m not into that. It’s OK that he has interests, but I have my interests.
You are also of the reputation as some sort of evil racist.
Doh! (in a mock Homer Simpson/Spanky exclamation) (laughs) Evil racist? Well, the only time I ever was convicted for anything was like, for a demonstration against apartheid
Yeah. But that was a phase of socialism. Then I went through a phase of being really angry with other races. And now I’m back to normal... totally unengaged in political issues. I went from one extreme to another extreme, and then I went totally uninterested in the whole damn thing.
Speaking of changing from extremes... I first heard the demo, the songs of which later became Soulside Journey, and I was very blown away by that album. It’s a very solid death metal album.
We had a solid theory behind our riffs and everything too. We were deep into that death metal thing, and we our own theory, like every riff should be... it should be possible to play the riffs on synthesizer cello, or whatever, to fit to a horror movie... a typical horror movie style. From there on, that was death metal to us, and it’s easy to hear... you know of course the “Reign in Blood” album, I’d say that the vocalist, when he does his part, the riffs underneath are totally thrash. But the riffs that are under the leads there, those are death metal riffs. Total death metal riffs. You can take those riffs, play them slower on a synthesizer, and you would have, like, totally horror.
I was told that the extremely drastic change after that album was the result of you being commanded by members of Mayhem.
(in a robot voice) Yes, I am on-ly a com-pu-ter. I on-ly take or-ders from May-hem peo-ple. Next ques-tion please. (we laugh and he speaks normally again) Oh no, it weren’t like that. It was like , we were really fed up with the whole death metal thing anyway. Of course, Euronymous had always pointed that out, because whenever I would even bring him, like, first Autopsy demo to his house, like in ‘88/’89, and I’d play it and like , “Listen to this! This rules!” he would be more like, “Well, it’s OK.” and he would just put on some Mutilated, you know, from France. He was always quick to point out. But he was total all the time totally untrendy dude. But we didn’t change because anyone told us to. It was more like, we saw old albums in a new light, and it was the black metal feeling came. And you really couldn’t continue playing technical death metal, so-to-say. I was was totally uninterested in making riffs that were 7/8 rhythms, or 14/16 rhythms and things like this. We just made decision to become primitive, or to play what basically we were listening to. And we still play that style. Totally primitive (burps) shit.
The media made it sound as if Grishnak had a grand plan... that he was going to play the really gay kind of black metal and that you were going to play the aggressive sort of black metal.
Oh yeah? You always listen to the media? I would rather listen to Eric Cartman than the media, man.
Yeah, I’m here to say that the media should never be trusted. But all right, how about the rumor that you are wearing silver pants these days?
Oh! These days... these days I’m listening to bassanova and Cuban music and deep jazz house. Well, whatever. I wore silver pants in, like ‘95. Yes. On some occasions. And even ‘96. But you know, that’s all cool. I was just talking to some Germans... I was staying with some guys in Mysticum. Of course, the Mysticum guys are really cool. They’re, like, totally freaked out. We really freaks. Heh, heh, heh. And this German was like, saying he’s been into the scene for a while. These totally evil German guys that were two years ago listening to hip hop. These guys were 27, so it’s not kids we’re talking about. Suddenly they go from being totally asshole dudes with inverted crosses, the biggest... their bellies, you know? That’s fuckin’ scary trend shit. What I’m saying is that it’s fuckin’ cool to do fuckin’ silver pants than to be fuckin’ trendy. I never did music or whatever to oppose or to be a rebel. But I tend to naturally go against the grain. You know what I’m saying? So when I’m suddenly seeing an ocean of stereotypes, black metallers, around me, I feel maybe a little bit weird about that because, in the beginning, there was just six of us here in Oslo, in ‘91. So that’s why maybe I am freaked out a little bit. I had this fuckin’ style now for so long now that it’s hard to shake.
You are involved in some non-brutal projects, are you not?
Are we so brutal?
You know what I mean.
If I want brutal I listen to fuckin’ Carcass or Extreme Noise Terror... old Napalm Death, or something like that. But I’d say all my shit is non-brutal. I can’t really play fast enough to be brutal on the drums. Sorry about that.
It’s all right.
It depends. A christian guy who just likes Bach, he would probably say that Darkthrone sounds brutal. When I’m making Darkthrone riffs and shit, I don’t think “brutal”. I think in very special way. Old Bathory shit. that’s what we’re here for... to help Quorthon stay alive by doing nothing. I mean, wee must have sold a lot of records for Bathory, man, if you know what I mean.
Has Darkthrone ever been endorsed by any musical instrument companies?
No. I could care less about what I’m playing on. My drum kit now is, like, total crap, man. It strikes me as a bit weird that Pearl hadn’t made a kit like “Pearl Harbor” because that sounds really like (in a black metal voice he rasps the word “war”). I’d like to play on a fuckin’ Pearl Harbor kit, man. If they make it, send some here.
Has Darkthrone ever been endorsed by Maybeline or Revlon?
Oh! Well... Revlon? I’d like to be endorsed by my aftershave. It’s imported from Armalia. It fuckin’ rules. It’s subtle.
What of these rumors that Darkthrone has ended? Where did these come from?
I think it was George from Seinfeld that said that in an interview.
Which is part of the Jewish conspiracy.
(he laughs a good long time) That’s a good one, man! No... of course, when we’re not doing anything for a while, people say that we end. But what is to keep a project alive anyway? I mean, we have a new album out, so we obviously haven’t ended. When we went into the studio this time, I just realized that I forgot to bring the album that I should bring for the sound engineer, because that’s something you do. For instance, for our Under the Funeral Moon album, we brought Blood, Fire, Death by Bathory and the first Black Sabbath album so that the sound engineer would understand where we were heading, sound-wise. This time we were supposed to bring The Return album by Bathory. That’s, like, the essence of black metal if you ask me. And I forgot it. So what I said was, “Well, I’ll just bring it next time.” (laughs) We’re not going anywhere, sound-wise.
How do you feel about the scene that you helped to form?
It’s become a parade now. I feel like an old Greek dude, sitting in the street, having a drink. We have to show that old school black metal can survive.
What do you think of Dimmu Borgir?
Hey, they’re cool guys. I’m doing this great project with Jamie... that’s Astennu, called “Vombator”. We have this great vocalist from England that sounds just like John Tardy. Really into the first Obituary album. So we’re total friends, and those guys are old school but they play new school. I have nothing against those, but I like better the rehearsals from ‘94. I really dig that. I was listening to that throughout ‘94. That, and Beastie Boys. It’s too flashy for me, for my taste. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure that out. You put on Darkthrone, you put on Dimmu... there’s a certain difference. But I like their old stuff so much that I want to make an undercompany and release it.
Is “Dimmu” Norwegian for “veggie”?
No, it’s Icelandic for “black castle”. Finally, a question I was informative about! That was amazing!
How do you feel about keyboards in black metal?
You don’t really... well, what can’t you put on a pizza these days? (explodes into psychotic laughter) Well, I don’t like pineapple on a pizza, man! And keyboards in metal are like pineapple on a pizza. But you Americans mostly don’t like the anchovies on a pizza, I hear. The idea is weird, but we had some keyboards even on our Soulside Journey album. But that just was more, like, eerie. I’m little bit opposed to that (he gives a vocal impression of Dimmu keyboards) because it basically sounds like some Bach with some (the word he spoke is indecipherable).
How do you feel about the kids all over the world who believed all the ridiculous media hype of the black metal explosion?
Well, the media just take it a long way, and when you blow it up like that... when you heat it up like that, the bare essence is maybe lost. The thing is, the people that hang in there... they know. But when it’s just a phase for someone, and it’s not the real love, then fuck it. But what I feel... I don’t know these people knew the hype. It’s great, though, to have a myth around a musical style. You know what is called the “jazz bug”? They start buying books about jazz and they become totally into it. I think this is great. It’s mystery. It’s myth. But what’s the bare essence of the jazz lost? The myth in black metal is stronger. I’d say it’s a bad thing for me. It’s easier to get into something that’s myth-ridden because it’s exciting. But for me, black metal ain’t that sort of exciting, flashy, circus stuff. It’s not like that. It’s just like fucking darkness and listening to nostalgic... like, The Return, from Bathory.
It seems to me that black metal flourished the same way that christianity did with the myth of the resurrection.
Goddamnit! Well, that’s going a little bit too far, but hey, we were seeing that death metal started to become awfully non-brutal, and maybe that’s what’s been happening today, even though I don’t think that Darkthrone is brutal. But there’s at least some sort of essence. But the christianity portion? I don’t know. That’s Alpha Omega. I if you start liking fish, then it’s totally weird.
I agree that at that time the commercial death metal bands were weak, but I always tell people who say that they find death metal boring to dig a little deeper because there’s always great stuff in the true underground. There was never a dry spell for it.
No, not in black metal either. There’s a lot of great black metal bands around now too. It’s always in the underground, man. I still like bigger death metal, like, I like new Morbid Angel. I find them to make really brave decisions sound-wise, and I don’t think they’re commercial at all. I don’t know why they sell a lot of albums.
Maybe because the guitar player is homosexual.
If they didn’t have a name they wouldn’t sell more than we because I really feel that that music is totally uncommercial. It’s really hard to listen to.
Do you respect their publicists for hiding the homosexuality of the guitar player so well?
Well.... do they have a publicist?
Cool! I’ve got to get a hold of that manager!
Well, Trey has a pretty good hold of the manager, if you know what I mean.
(laughs) Well, I don’t care, man. I couldn’t care less, actually. I’m not really that homophobic.
So you would hang out with Trey drunk, no problem?
I don’t know. I don’t like to hang out with drunk people unless I’m drunk myself. And then, anything could happen. (explodes into laughter)
The myths of black metal inspired people all over the world, especially with the fierce nationalism. It seemed like an elitism was going on in Norway. There are some labels that say to other labels, “We cannot trade you one CD for one CD. Our CD’s are so elite that one of our CD’s is worth one and a half of yours.” How do you feel about that attitude?
I don’t know who the hell want to listen to more metal now... (laughs) No, what I mean is, I never heard of that specific sort of example. I really listen to stuff that people send me. You know? But basically, I feel like, “This is not gonna be good.” But sometimes it happens. It wasn’t long time since some young Norwegian approached me with some project and I just looked at it, thinking, “This is going to be really awful, man.” But I just listened to it, and listened to it twice, and start to dig it. So if I were real elitist I wouldn’t even bother to listen to it. I think it’s a lot of being tired. You know? Burned out... you’re not really interested in listening to new stuff. I can totally understand that. It’s different for a band that’s been playing since ‘97... and we’ve been into metal since the start of the ‘80’s. The new generation is, of course, a bit more enthusiastic. Like we said, it started in Norway with that typical whatever... and people say that they made a sort of Norwegian black metal up. I can point out for you what is typical Norwegian black metal riff. I could do that. But people really don’t know what that typical sort of riffing is because that was the guitarist from Thorns Nora (ed - that’s what is sounded like he said) and Euronymous that started that whole sort of riffing. Then everyone said, “No. We’re tired of Norwegian black metal.” But Norwegian black metal was not existing at that time! Since ‘92 everyone went their own way. Probably, in rehearsal places in ‘91-’92, we were basically playing the same stuff.. all the bands. But we quickly went own ways. That’s what I’m thinking. But I don’t have any problems saying, of course, that we were leading at that time, and other nations had problems making music that was as solid black metal as we did. But I think that the style that comes from America is totally different. The style that comes from Greece is totally different. They’re really not the same thing. But I would say England had a real problem. England had a problem even making a great thrash metal band. They had problems making a great death metal band. You know, they had Carcass, and more crustier shit. They were great at that. But they also had problems making black metal. So why wouldn’t we say that. A lot of other nations with a lot of more people than Norway having huge problems in making solid death metal that would make our blood freeze... that’s where all this elitism comes from. I would say, “Hey! We’re onto something here! And we’re way ahead!” It was the only time that we were ever way ahead... except for the Vikings.
Well, did not the Vikings become conquered by the christians?
(he wails) Don’t mention that! You get me severely depressed.
Darkthrone had lyrics in Norwegian.
Yeah, we started that, actually. It was the guys from Vomit... they came up to us at a gig in ‘89 or something, and said, (in a mock drunken stoner voice) “Hey man, (hiccup) someone should start singing in Norwegian.” And we were thinking about that for years, and all of a sudden I started to write a lyric and it turned out really cool. Well, “cool” is not the right word in black metal. But anyway... I’m watching too much Seinfeld now. So we tried it out and it worked. That’s one of the things that we started with. Other people probably had the same idea, but we were there first. (he giggles like the Pillsbury Doughboy).
I just thought it was strange that all those who waved the flag of elitism all spoke English.
We all speak English in Norway. We grow up with this language. We start learning it when we’re, like, eight, in school.
It must’ve been after England conquered Scandinavia.
English rules, man. You have words like “flabbergasted” and “boggled”. Boggle, boggle.
You like those sounds? Is it true that in Norway your nickname is “Freeze Miser”?
No. I never even heard that.
Really? You don’t have a t-shirt that says “I’m Mr. Freeze Miser. Whatever I touch turns to ice in my clutch”?
That’s fuckin’ ridiculous, man! That’s way out there. I mean, I heard a lot of silly rumors in my day, but hey, you’ve been surfing on the internet too much.
OK, back to the Viking culture and elitism.
Well, it’s just one more thing that needs to be cleared up. I heard that it is very important what sort of cup a Norwegian man drinks from.
As far as it’s beer, who gives a fuck! You know?
What does peanut butter mean to you?
Peanut butter? Oh, that’s, like, American culture. I never had peanut butter, myself. But when I see it in the store, I go like, “Typical American, man”
Because what I heard is, Vikings did not drink mead, which is beer boiled with honey.
Yeah, I know.
They drank a drink that was made from fermented peanut butter.
Well you probably know more about Viking culture than I do. It definitely sounds like that.
Well this is where it became personal... What’s that band that you had a problem with? I’m trying to remember...
I never had a problem with a band.
You never had a problem with a band?
Are you sure?
Yeah I’m sure. Well, I know that “All” or something from Abryptum was angry with me because of some thing like... the scene almost split, attitude-wise, because of who’s rooting for Count Grishnak and who’s rooting for Euronymous. So that was the problem. And everyone was figuring that I didn’t give a fuck about Euronymous. But I liked both guys. You know?
Alright, this makes a lot of sense because I heard it was the other way around. (he burps long and loudly while I am talking) You were angry with All because...
No, I weren’t.
You have a particular cup, according to this rumor, that you drink your peanut butter from...
(he bursts into deafening laughter) That’s a fabulous rumor.
...and it is called “Fenriz’s Peanut Butter Cup”. And “All” took it.
“All” took it? Oh! (in the voice of a child who had its lollipop taken away) “Oh, he stole it from me!” Well, that’s that. Hey, he was really angry with me, and it was rumored all around that he was really gonna wipe me out. Once, I got a call at my job, “All’s at M’s now, and he wants to meet you.” And I was, like, “Fuck! I got to bite the bullet and go there.” And I guess I was a bit nervous, but when I came he weren’t there, so... after that I hadn’t heard squat.
Is he taller than you?
I don’t know.
He’s only four feet tall.
Everyone says he’s tiny. But tiny people can fight with cannon. You know?
So, is the rumor with a person who works at Necropolis Records, named “Joker”, true?
Huh? I don’t have a problem with Necropolis Records.
Not even with Joker, the man with the cannon?
The man with the cannon? Man, you Americans are totally weird!
All right, let me ask you this. Did a black man ever get his chocolate in your peanut butter?
No. I never had any interference with black man.
Or peanut butter?
No. I never even tasted it.
Anything you’d like to say about your new album?
Yeah, it’s totally Darkthrone, as usual. It’s fuckin’ old school, and that’s what we’ve been all along. So there.
Would you like your address at the end of this interview?
No, because I don’t write anymore, man. I don’t have fuckin’ time for it. You should see my schedule. At least the hobby I got with forests...
(I start laughing)
That’s nothing to laugh about! I take that very seriously! I’m hours in the forest all the fuckin’ time.
With the mosquitoes?
No, it’s fuckin’ serious. Now I’m finding obscure... I have a book, and you stamp the book for obscure places in the forest that day. It’s hard to explain. But there is a lot of forests around this place. So we have a lot to do there.
Do you know what a tick is?
Yeah, I know a tick. I don’t have any, though. I’m totally scared of it because it’s fucking shitty animal, man. It just bites into you, and you gotta twist and turn to get it out. But usually there’s more of them along coastlines, and not really in a lot of forest areas that I’m visiting.
I heard that in Norway, because there’s a lot of mysticism, and the peasants exaggerate what they see, ticks have been called “sprites” over there... like the little faerie creatures.
Well, never trust a farmer.
I heard that they carry a disease called “Lime-on Disease” (goofing on the taste of the lemon/lime-flavored soft drink called “Sprite”).
They carry disease, yeah, because if you don’t find it, serious shit could happen to you. You don’t have ticks in America? Don’t tell me that!
No, they’ve been outlawed, actually.
You can’t outlaw them!
Yes you can! The government can outlaw anything!
It takes all kinds to make the world a more shitty place.
I have to thank you for having a sense of humor. I was told that you would not tolerate any silly jokes.
Satyr talked me into this. I’ll tell you why I’m doing all these interviews now. I probably should shut up because the people that are escaping to Darkthrone because they don’t like where things are going... they will be very pissed off at all these funny interviews I’m doing now. But the point is, when they sent out that tribute album, they sent out with a press release that said, “Do you want interview? Call here!” I didn’t know about this. Suddenly the office called and is like, “Hey, interview, interview, interview.” I’m was like, “What’s all this with interviews?” And Satyr’s like, “Can’t you do some interviews? And be nice!” And I’m like, “OK, I’ll do interviews and be nice... and even be funny!” (in a South Park impersonation) “Kick the baby!”