Rock Brigade

Every musical style has always a tamer who makes History and is the responsible for its first steps. With Venom and Hellhammer, Bathory seeded some of the most promissory seeds of Black Metal. The band was a reason to many tales for the fact of being leaded for an only man, Quorthon, who composed every songs, played almost every instrumentes, sang etc.

Although Bathory's irrefusable success and influence on thousands of nowadays bands, Quorthon has been always adverse to interviews and he has never played live, details these that worked only on increasing the tales...

The most recent Bathory's work that is called Blood on Ice, brings every umbrageous elements usual to the band, besides complicated melodies, tenebrous lyrics and epic themes. Actually, Blood on Ice was recorded within 88 and 89, but only now it could be released in an album.

Who remembers Bathory from the '80's, might find strange the missing of roaring vocals and the excess of epic melodies in the CD. But, if you calmly read the lyrics and listen to each details of the songs, you'll realize that Quorthon was always ahead his time, and this was just the beginning of his complete leaving from his childish satanic age, to begin a deep dive into his Northern roots, especially Viking's mythology.

In this on line talking with Quorthon directly from his mothercity, Stockholm in Sweden, we could feel an intelligent man, owner of a refined humor, besides a kind of worrying about weakening some tales about himself. Before we begin our chatting, Quorthon praised the BRIGADE, saying he's noticed it since "the '80's". He also told us that his last inteview to ROCK BRIGADE, that published his recorder address, gave him more than 700 letters from Brazilian fans!

Blood on Ice has a high quality recording if we compare it to the kind of studios that you used on that time. Is this recording original or have you remixed or overdubbed it?

Half is original, the other half has received some remixes later.

Especially the vocal seem to be remixed in studio...

The part that was remixed is about 40%. The rest is original.

Your fans had been asking you to release this album for years, that existed only in some demo tapes and in some unofficial tapes terribly recorded. Was because of them that you decided to release Blood on Ice as an album?

I have no doubts about it. Everybody had been asking us to release this disc for years, because the songs were very good. But we had never had time to sit down and to give a "care" to the original recording. Now that this opportunity appeared, we could do everything the way we wished. Moreover, there were so many rumors about this disc that we wouldn't need to divulgate when it was released, because everybody was already told about its existence! [LAUGHS]

Around 88, when Blood on Ice was firstly recorded, Bathory hadn't got not even a complete drum to work, such was the band's lack of money. How was it on those days?

It was always different to a disc from another. Sometimes it was really hard, in other times, it wasn't so much.

The song "Man of Iron" is a kind of an epic ballad, with birds singing and things of this kind. Considering that in that time your fans were much more radical, how did they face this kind of work?

Bathory was one of those few bands of this style that could compose a song like this without spoiling its own image with their fans. If the Slayer from that time had done something of this kind, their fans would have gone crazy! It was for someone to compose songs talking about the violence of big cities or about bloody murderings without putting heavy and velocity in the song. But this was not Bathory's line. Our style gave us freedom to talk about distant mountains, beautiful stallions, sword medieval fights or about the Northern ideal; and we could calmly record a disc without needing to play in the light velocity. The fact of we own this freedom, allow us to express our feelings better in our songs.

Blood on Ice is an epic story that could become a good book or even a film. Have you ever thought about this possibility?

I created this story years ago only for my own satisfaction, I didn't think about using it on any specific thing. Then, I had a lot of work to put rhymes and song inside the story. I would be very happy if someone wanted to change it in a film or a book, but I would never be able to do it, because I am only a musician.

Even releasing such intelligent disc like this and with so many thing to be discussed in an interview, do journalists bore you with questions about satanism yet?

Of course, because people are to igorant! Most prefer to concentrate on shit than on facts. I spent ten years of my life answering almost the same stupid questions in the interviews, but I have never given up answering the press, although I don't like it very much. Moreover, this is my job and if I release a work, I have to divulgate it.

Has Bathory got a "normal" line up now or are you still doing everything on your own?

Up to six years ago, I have been doing the guitar parts, bass and vocal, besides composing everything. Periodically, I contact a friend or a studio musician to record the missing parts. For me, it is a very comfortable situation, for I don't get tired on arguments with other musicians and I have much more time to concentrate myself only on music.

The most usual questions among Bathory's fans is: "When will the band play live?"... Is there any chance for it to happen?

I play live on my with myself every night! (laughs) I always talk to musician that accomplish extense tourne고and it is always about the same: lots of people in a bus for whole weeks, bad sound, terrible lightning, little money, horrible food, terrible clubs and ugly girls! So i prefer to stay at home! [laughs] Moreover, it is too hard to reproduce live half of what Bathory does in the albums. I won't be the one who will destroy Bathory's image! The man listens to the disk at home and loves the band; when he goes to the concert, it isn't anything he imagined... I don't want to run this risk!

The members of Norwegian Inner Circle use to praise your satanist messages burning down churches and making frontal attacks to Christianity. Considering that Satanism is a fruit of the historic christianity, wouldn't thes people be making christianity even stronger when they reaffirm dogmas and preceits of Christianism?

[Long pause] This is a quite complicated question but, in the deep, they are at least starting from somewhere. The problem is that when it is started to make some foolish, the initial goals end on being deturped. It's needed to have in your mind that a crime is always a crime, doesn't matter who you are or what you do. And it has nothing to do with music! These attack have been started many years ago, it is not an isolated case connected to a group of immature musicians.

What is your opinion about the junction of strength of European nazi and satanist?

The nazism, the satanism and the paganism are always gathering their forces, but this gathering is absolutely contradictory. How can a man consider himself from extreme right and wear long hair and heavy make up? It is a contradiction that has nothing to do with music.

If nazi-satanism itself is a contradiction, so it means that people haven't got an exact notion about what they're doing. And if they haven't got this idea, so are they doing this for immaturity or only for marketing?

I don't think it is marketing. The problem is that these people go to the extreme to show their feelings. There was a time when I thought this way and I imagined that Bathory was a vehicle to express my most extreme ideas. Now I know things are not exactly this way anymore, because there are other ways. But I won't tell anybody what to do to his or her own life, each one knows what is better to him or herself.

In this context, some black metal Greek bands affirm that, in opposite to the contemporary satanism, the Viking Age was the real representation of dark. What do you think about this affirmation?

I think this the the most stupid thing I have ever heard! [laughs] But we cannot find it strange, because hardly someone in Greece will have an exact idea about something that is part of Northern culture. By the way, anyone cannot have a sharp idea about what Vikings thought or about how their relationship were. All we know about this age are suppositions and modern interpretations from archeologists and scientists, because Vikings didn't leave anything on books, letters or things like.

What is your idea about hell?

There is no hell, heaven, God, Evil, gods, demons, angels, ghosts or life after death. It all doesn't exist! It is all fruit of human imagination, it is pure abstraction! When I compose my lyrics, I fantasize a lot on it because I know these things are abstract. All these things are fantasies created by christianity. If you analize the before-christianism civilization in Scandinavia, Asia, Europe or South America, you will realize the idea of Evil or hell simply doesn't exist. These fantasies appeared firstly in the area of Mediteranean, that was the cradle of christianity, and spreaded out all over the world. Due to this all I think christianity is a false thing. By the way, all the religions are false.

You have ever been fan of cartoons like Conan and Chock. Were they an inspiration for you to compose this epic/terror style of yours?

Not directly. If you live in a city like New York, that is extremely violent, you will have a natural interest on policial stories, crimes etc. Therefore, this theme is part of your life, of your routine. Even pornography is something that doesn't shock, in this kind of place. On the other hand, if you are in an Arabian culture, for example, pornography is something that shocks very much, it is almost a taboo. Each one grows up in a specific enviroment and makes his/her own values according to it. I've grown up reading lots of cartoons, so it estimulated my creativity alot and later worked on keeping my mind fertile to compose lyric to Bathory. Therefore, this kind of cartoon inspired me only in a not direct way.

In this context, don't you think children that today grow up in front of a computer with its cyber games or surfing in Internet will have their minds much more limitated in future, exactly because they do not exercise their imagination?

I think so. The problem is that computer is only a tool, a work intrument, it itself cannot be an end. With computer, we have access to informations, freedom of expression. For a thousand years the Church has been trying to oppress and shut up the sciences, archeology, education, arts and music. Nowaday, tools like computers can scape disturbless from the "moral" of the Church. Due to this, we have much more access to the information about life, space and many other things that have been policed and censored by the Church. In this point of view, computer is very useful to bring culture and information to the Men.

You have ever been a fan of the classical composer Richard Wagner. Do you agree with that he was the first heavy metal composer?

[Laughing] No. The first great heavy metal composer was Ludwig van Beethoven! [many laughs]

Bathory interview from Rock Brigade issue #120 (July 1996)
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