Kill Yourself !!!

Bathory - The Legend Never Dies

Now here's something fucking fantastic, an interview with Quorthon of the almighty Bathory. I was quite sure it would never come back and made it very short although I had much more to ask. But Quorthon surprised me with maybe the longest and greatest answers ever seen in the pages of KILL YOURSELF!!! Magazine and with a good attitude. Now when I look at todays underground and see these new Black metal fans who consider EMPEROR and BURZUM as "good bands", I'm really pissed off, Bathory was around in early 80's and is around now and has made albums that are absolutely master-pieces among this giant ocean of shit quality trend bands. People & Zinemakers who call themselves metallers but do not recognize a song of Bathory should not be taken seriously. So let's hear it from Quorthon...

Greetings, Quorthon! How are you and what are the latest happenings in Bathory-Camp?

Hi Timo, well I'm great. We have just finished the mastering of "Blood on Ice" and we are starting to build up a schedule for the promotion of the album (to be released end of April).

So it should be out by now. Let's talk a bit about the past. Bathory has always been an influence to almost every young black metal band. No wonder why, your first LP "Bathory" is even now a masterpiece of pure fucking black metal as far as I'm considered. But after all music you've made, what kind of memories it awakens to hear the wicked sound of your no. one?

Well, the first album cost us some 2000 SKR to record and it took us about 36 hours including the soundcheck and the mixing, so I guess there aren't too much on that album to really sit down and analyse - except for the raw energy itself and of course the fact that it has meant a lot for Black and Death metal ever since (Even though it's not a great album at all on it's own). If our first album, the first albums of, say VENOM or SLAYER or any other of us "old" bands, would be released today - I am sure nobody would care. But one has to put each album into it's own "time perspective". Of course I am aware of the fact that Bathory has been a long time influence to so many bands within both Black and Death metal - just as MOTÖRHEAD was an influence to us when we started Bathory. I should say that I haven't listened to the first album throughout since maybe in '85 or '86. I've listened to a few songs from the first album when in '93 we worked on a couple of tracks from "Bathory" when we did "Jubileum vol. 1" and "Jubileum vol. 2".

The next LP was "Under The Sign Of The Black Mark". I've heard that you hate it and haven't listened to it since it was made. Why is that? Aren't the songs like "Enter The Eternal Fire" and "Call From The Grave" after all some really strong dark music?

Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't "The Return..." (from January '85) our second album!? Never mind, I think no band in history of recorded music has been able to write and record a completely great album. There are albums with a handful of great stuff on them but there's always some stuff on every album that isn't too good. Not even The Beatles, my all time favorite band, managed to record a whole great album even if they are the greatest band that has ever been. When we did "The Return..." in January '85 and "Under the Sign of the Black Mark" in '86 (I don't remember which month we did that one) I think we were at a certain stage in our lives as people and as musicians just as we are on a different stage and level today. You develop and expand all of the time and if you stay on the same spot all your life as a musician you are gonna die. Therefore I think it's unfair to the material on old albums to sit down 10 or 11 years later and criticize it from the standpoint you're on at the time. I leave the criticizing bit to other people but I never bother about reviews. One persons idea about an album can never reflect another persons view on the same material.

Then we jump to "Blood Fire Death" I'm not into fast songs in it, but I never get tired listening "Fine Day To Die" or "Blood Fire Death". You've mentioned a lot of classical composers in your playlists including jean sibelius. Well I can somehow hear a piece of "Finlandia" in "Odens Ride Over Nordland". Is it just my imagination?

Actually I never thought about it. If there's anything in "Odens Ride Over Nordland" that resembles of Sibelius "Finlandia" then maybe it is the basic melody using A" and A minor, but one must understand that stuff like that is never done intentionally and not until you now told me I started to think about it myself, so you see I never stole anything or tried to copy "Finlandia". I didn't even have it in mind at the time.

Who mentioned stealing here? I just think there is a certain melody in it that brings "Finlandia" in my mind, and I didn't mean it as a negative thing. Now, the almighty "Hammerheart". To me it's your best product yet made. And in it (plus in the next, totg) you used first time all viking lyrics. I believe you were the first one (since there was that viking thing in even some of the songs of BFD), where did the idea for that come? Was there any other band using such lyrics back then? Opinion about viking-metal arriving from spain (it has been done)?

Well I don't know if "Hammerheart" is a "viking" -album. I would call it a Nordic album because we weren't too specific about vikings as such anywhere in the lyrics. We really needed something else to write once I came to the conclusion that the whole dark or occult act was a hoax created by the christian church. The prechristian Nordic scene seemed just a natural thing to pick up for your lyrics for a couple of albums. And now tons of bands have mixed both satanism with the Nordic-cult to become something extreme also saying that Bathory worked as influence there as well. "Viking" -stuff from Spain!? Are you kidding me? That just can't be, man...

Well, it might have been from italy too, but is it any better? No it's fucking dirty... Then a bit more about the lyrics. I read somewhere that at the time of your first LP's you just wrote down whatever goodsounding that came into your mind. But when I read the lyrical side of "Hammerheart" & "Twilight Of The Gods" or even "Blood Fire Death", I start to wonder if it is still that way? How do you handle your lyrics nowadays? Is there a hard work in every tale as the new lyrics are constructed really professionally.

It may be true for the first album that I wrote down whatever shit came to my mind at the time that sounded good enough to make it as a lyric for a song. But when you grow as a musician and as a lyric-writer you start working a little bit more on the ly rics. By the time we did "The Return..." I had already started to think about lyrics in a much different way. Today lyrics is an effort that takes two or three times the amount of time compared to when writing a song. You can say a lot more with your lyrics than with the music so I guess it's only natural that it should take some more time doing lyrics. Not to say that the music isn't any important, just that music seems to come natural.

This is the last one about your records... I still haven't heard "Octagon" yet, but one song came from the local radio titled "Born To Die". Quite different, more rock I think although my friend claimed it to be an old song. Is this the Bathory we can wait to hear from the future LP's as well? The end of evolution? And a few words about the Quorthon-LP?

"Born to Die" is not an "old song" as your friend stated but it was written and recorded in January '95. I am surprised that anyone could call it a rock-song. There's tons of 16th beat double-bass drums in there and hysterical vocals as well. Nevermind, I think one problem with Bathory is that people tend to bother too much about style than actually sitting down enjoying the stuff. People compare stuff we did in '85-'86 with one particular song off a record today etc etc... We know nothing of what Bathory may sound like in the future just as little as I knew back in '85-'86 how Bathory would sound today. One can not think of a band as a specific sound or beat style or image. People change, sounds and styles change and lyrics will change just as images come and go. Only people and bands who can not invent something of their own; their own sound or their own style will criticize others for wimping out, for not being true satanists, for being too slow or for being commercial. I have been in this business for 13 years now, I have done 13 albums. I have done TV, Radio, and thousands of magazines and fanzines. I have fucked close to 400 girls in the ladies-room at clubs, at the toilets at Boeing 747's and in the back of limousines. I must have signed a million autographs during these years. I can safely say I have received well over 100 000 letters over the years and to a great extent answered most of them. In other words... I have been through stuff that most bands only dream of. I am at a point today where I can just sit back and enjoy working with Bathory as something that is really great fun and not as something that means a lot of pressure or image or stealing influences from others. I can safely say, though, that I take it as an insult if you say that "Born to Die" means the end of evolution for Bathory as a band or for me as a song writer. I hope that was just a misunderstanding or a result of lack of knowledge of English from your side. You wanted a few words regarding the "Album" as well. It was great fun thing to do. It never was a Bathory album, it truly was a solo effort. I did everything on it myself: guitars, bass, drummachine and percussion plus of course vocals. The strange thing was that even though we expected a lot of shit reviews for it we did receive some strange criticism but never really any bad ones... and "Album" actually is one of the better selling albums at the Black Mark label... and other bands tour, make videos and produce endless piles of line-up photos and bio's... I have received tons of mail from people who ask me to do a second one. Up until now I have always said "No", because the priority since the first solo-album has always been Bathory. Last year, in May, I was actually supposed to do a second solo-album but "Blood on Ice" took all the time and was really number one priority. Now that "Blood on Ice" will be out at the end of April, maybe I will begin to do a second solo-album. I hope you're gonna like that one better than the first one.

Are you into underground anymore? Are you interested in new bands, magazines and stuff like that? Fave ug-band? I think that after a short unproductive season the scene has produced some really fine new bands. Can you expect for any good bands anymore? What country has the most promising scene?

I am really the worst possible person to ask about the Underground or new bands or even what is happening at all out there or in Sweden. I know absolutely nothing. I only know the ones that are in every magazine every fucking day, but if you'd play on me one band I could not tell you who they are or what their style is all about. I know no bands, no new styles or images, this whole cross-over scene has really taken metal in so many different directions I have lost track. I think it's good though coz you can not go around sounding like everybody else too long. Just look at us, we created Black metal 13 years ago when there was only N.W.O.B.H.M. and Death metal around. Then we picked up the Nordic sound and lyrics and created a whole new scene. I know that metal will always be around forever. The only thing is we can not just sit where we are and pretend we know what metal should sound like or not. The type of metal our kids will listen to in 25 years from now will be different from stuff that's around today, just as metal today is different from stuff you and I grew up listening to respectively. I grew up with THE BEATLES, MOUNTAIN, LED ZEPPELIN, old KISS, MOTÖRHEAD, SEX PISTOLS and BLACK SABBATH. Today we have a million different bands out there, the market is flooded with styles and sounds. Ultimately the ones who will get the best out of this are the fans, they only need to pick up their favorites. The shit bands will disappear and the good bands who have anything to say or who can prove themselves to be innovative will remain. Look at the bands who were around about 13 to 10 years ago. POSSESSED are gone, HELLHAMMER/CELTIC FROST are gone, DESTRUCTION are gone, VOIVOD are gone, DEATH are gone, AT WAR are gone, SODOM are gone.. and the list could be miles longer. The only ones left from the start are really Bathory, SLAYER and METALLICA, and I think maybe that is because these bands have always had their unique style and have always given the fans what they want. I know that VENOM may re-unite, but since they haven't sounded any good since '84 or something I see no reason why they should re-unite.

I definitely agree, it's just a shame that the shitty bands hang around so long and you have to hear and see them... But what kind of person are you behind the Bathory? Do you have any other job or do you live of Bathory? What's your relationship to king alcohol, isn't it relaxing to have a few beers sometimes? Have you ever been into drugs?

When not working with Bathory material, I guess I'm just a normal guy. I am into reading stuff, great books about great subjects, I listen to very little music on a whole, I paint a lot and write a lot, it's been about 10 years since I went out to any clubs (I find it degrading to lower yourself to a level where you are drunk). I can't even stand the smell of beer and prefer a bottle of fine old wine or very clean and pure Vodka. I used to take any type of job (mostly untaxed work) but for three years now I've been able to live from Bathory totally. It's been taking many years for a lot of people in more than 30 countries to collect all the figures and to have all the paper-work concerning royalties and copyrights done. And to wrap up your question; No, I think drugs are for people with low intelligence and no self-discipline.

Yes, well you must have heard the big Mayhem-story, death of Euronymous, Norwegian Black metal - boom, church burnings, murders... I think we should really hear your opinion about all that. Mayhem by the way was a really old band. Since you both were pioneers in the way of ug-metal, did you have any kind of contact with Euronymous in the past?

Even though I have never heard their stuff I think it's safe to say that it's impossible to claim that MAYHEM pioneered any scene or style simply because they were not around when we made our first bunch of albums. Nevermind, I didn't know anything about all that stuff that had happened in Norway until some English journalists jumped me with the issue when I was in London for a promo-tour for "Album" (whenever that was!?). I really don't bother about any of that. If a metal fan in Japan sets fire to his school or the director of a fanzine in Argentina eats his own shit or whatever... there is no fucking way you or I are going to bother about it simply because these actions have not anything to do with metal as genre or us as individuals. Whatever has been done in Norway by whomever is not important at all. I couldn't care less. They can burn down every church in Norway and I still can not care at all. I can't defend it but I can understand what they are trying to do, it's an act of defiance against the christian faith... a church is the house of God... christianity is a fascist religion... Norway is a very conservative country and the church has a lot to say. Fuck christianity and fuck the church... wipe the whole shit out of Scandinavia I don't care...but don't confuse it with metal and don't mix the actions with the music...

It's impossible not to mix their actions with music since they have reached the knowledge of the "bigger press" and in there they are not aware of things the way we are, so when a black metaller burns a church and happends to have some kind of band it's a straight contact between metal and burnings. Unfortunate but sure thing... Ok, let's move on... You never do gigs, am I right? Why is that? I'm sure there would be a great amount of audience in Bathory-gig so that would be quite lucrative.

Well we used to play concerts in Stockholm back in '84 and '85. But there was no metal scene back then and no places for metal bands to play. If you wanted to play in the city at some big club you could not look and sound the way we used to and consequently those concerts were some really small club shit. When we became big and touring seemed the most important thing to do we of course wanted to tour Sweden, Scandinavia and Europe. But the band EUROPE was very big in Sweden in those days and everytime we had put out ads for a new drummer or a bass player the guys who would come down the rehearsal place would smell of perfume, their hair style would look like that of a pudeland, they weren't too sure if they wanted to sweat on stage or wear leather and studs. It was really hard times trying to find people to a band like Bathory. They may have been able to play pretty fast and brutal and consequently would end up on the records, but they would never stay in the band long enough for Bathory to have a solid line- up and therefore there were never any tours and concerts after '85. In '86-'87 sometime, we were supposed to tour with DESTRUCTION and CELTIC FROST in the United States of America. But they could never agree on anything and I felt that our music by that time had developed so much it would have been virtually impossible to reproduce on stage what we did on record. People in both Europe and the U.S. have sent me letters and fax's telling me that if we come to play here or there they would guarantee us to get one million kronor. Personally I am not interested in concerts and feel that it would be wrong to go on stage after all these years. I feel very comfortable with the studios and hence there will be no Bathory tour in the future.

Now this is a question that should maybe have been at the end of this 'view but what the hell... In some magazine (I think it was a Norwegian one), you said something of your lyrics. You said that you started writing evil stuff because you were too young to write about fast cars and women which you hadn't expired yet! Is that true or were you joking?

It's not all too wrong actually, I was very much into occult those days and at that age (I was 16-17 when I started Bathory) you really don't have that kind of view on life as I may have today. Our stuff in those days were really more horror type of shit than any serious attempt to be true satanists... we didn't have a clue.

That's something the bands of today would not admit, but no matter how "true" you were, you made an influence of all time with your first LP's. Then to the last question. How long will the tale continue if it's up to you Quorthon? Are there more chapters to come or have we reached the bitter end? And if there is something to add, do it. I've said everything.

It's really up to the fans to decide whether Bathory should continue or not. We sell more records today than we have ever sold before. Bathory is such a big name that everybody it seems wants to hear a new Bathory album when we have released so mething, and it seems not everybody care too much about how it sounds, if it's fast or heavy or satanic or nordic or whatever... it would be really stupid to stop right here just like that. I will certainly not be the one who decides when Bathory should lay to rest... that will be decided by fate...

That was Quorthon of Bathory. There's something unique in every album of Bathory and we have to remember that Quorthon and his first albums (which got far too little respect at the time) showed the way for Northern Black Metal being ultimate raw, dirty and evil! And Quorthon wasn't even born and raised in Norway! How's that possible? Ha ha... Black metal turn into "Heathen metal" or to some other "great term" and bands wimp out to sing about some stupid dwarfs, but Bathory's Unholy Trinity "Bathory", "The Return..." & "Under the Sign of the Black Mark") shall stand as a monument of wrath forever. Hail & kill!

Interview From Kill Yourself !!! Magazine #5, (1/1997) by Timo Sitomaniemi
Typed by Devamitra
Taken from Twilight web-site.
www.geocities.com/SunsetStrip/Palladium/6646/
Little corrections by Blacky


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