BATHORY - An Epic Interview With Quorthon
Interviewed by Luxi Lahtinen
AH...! BATHORY. It's been a while since I have heard anything from
them either in a form of new BATHORY releases or just in a form of
interviews, wild rumors, - whatever you can make up in your vivid mind
"Blood on Ice", their previous and one of the BATHORY's
most monumentally moving concept albums, came out as late as 1996, so I
was taken by a rather big surprise when I found a promotional-CD for
BATHORY's new opus "Destroyer of Worlds" from amongst my mail
when arriving back to home after a stressful day at work. It's been 5
tremendously long years of waiting since Quorthon made his previous move
concerning his very much ambitious song writing - and the following chat
between me and the master Quorthon himself is mostly based on the
details of making "Destroyer of Worlds", but there's also many
other interesting topics and facts touched upon of which I haven't had
the slightest clue about before. I have to admit that I learnt a HELL of
A LOT more 'bout everything around Quorthon himself and BATHORY; some
REAL hard facts that should dock the ugliest gossips and all the bad
talk round the ultimate pioneers of both Black - and Viking Metal,
BATHORY once and for all.
So stay tuned - all of you, as Quorthon speaks out about the past and
the present of BATHORY; a bit of Vikings, more of women, a rotten
business around the Heavy Metal circus, oi-punkers and host of other
mind-wrecking things as well..."
Hi there Mr. Quorthon! So, what are your chief feelings right
now when you´ve reached at least one milestone in your long-lasting
career by getting out your 10th studio album, titled "Destroyer of
I guess after 18 years and 17 releases I'm used to it. When it all
comes down to it, though, it's really not about quantity but about
quality. The quality will not be determined by you or me but by the
audience. So I guess it's just like any other album no more or less.
Would you let the readers of METAL-RULES.COM know next, what
kind of a process was it to actually come up with all this stuff for
this new BATHORY album ´coz to me it seems like since your previous
output, "Blood On Ice" came out 5 years ago in 1996, you´ve
had a rather long period to come - and work up with new BATHORY
compositions for "Destroyer of Worlds" and bring the songs to
maturity within this period of the time on the quiet? And did you use
all the songs (i.e. 13 songs clocking in at 66 minutes...) for this new
- pretty damn pompously titled new BATHORY creation - or is there any
leftover material somewhere left from these particular sessions to be
used for your future efforts possibly?
Actually, the reason as to why it took so long was the growing
awareness of what the fans really wanted from a new album, that changed
our direction. I had written more than 25 songs for a new BATHORY album.
When we began working on demos and pre-production, we told Black Mark
that they could let people know that an album was being worked on. So
there was an official release date out. This led to a flood of fan mail
during 1999-2000 from fans talking about how much they wanted this new
album. They mentioned how much they wanted it to sound like a mix of the
albums released in the 1987-1990 period. I realized then, that if
BATHORY would have released an album containing this rather progressive
material that we were working on, it would have been to go in a
direction which was not what most of our fans wanted. So we decided to
scrap all that material and write stuff that reminded of earlier BATHORY
albums. The material on DESTROYER OF WORLDS was hastily written in June
this summer. Nothing on DESTROYER OF WORLDS is older than that. Nothing
of the material we had written in these interim years ever ended up on
DESTROYER OF WORLDS. Perhaps in the future on the next album for 2002,
will we use some of that material, it all depends on what the fans
really has to say. That scrapped material was very progressive and not
at all what's on the earlier classic BATHORY albums or what's on
DESTROYER OF WORLDS.
Initially we wanted to take a break after having done BLOOD ON ICE.
During the first half of the 80's we had done three albums containing
semi satanic death metal. In the later half of the 80's we did three
albums containing epic Nordic metal. Then we remembered our more brutal
fans and out of that came two hardcore power metal albums. These two
hardcore type of albums were not very well liked by the majority of our
fan base which at the time were totally into anything the Nordic epic
stuff. So we released BLOOD ON ICE as a souvenir to all our Nordic metal
fans. In addition to that we had released three "Jubileum"
volumes to celebrate 10 and 15 years, plus I did two solo albums. I felt
it would be good to take a break, to come up with fresh ideas and to let
both BATHORY and the audience get the hunger back.
Originally the break was supposed to be for only two years or
something like that. And so just when we thought we had found a new
style and sound and a new direction for BATHORY for the 21st Century,
the fans wrote us and said they want a new album to sound like the
classical BATHORY. DESTROYER OF WORLDS is therefore a mixture of earlier
BATHORY albums sound and style-wise.
People may get an idea that you write new BATHORY songs in the
terms of what your fans decide only - and NOT the way how YOU feel or
want your songs to be like. So that makes me to ask from you what´s
actually a balance between you and the BATHORY fans; how much do you
write primarily for yourself only and how much for the fans?
Well, actually I write for myself not one bit. At least not in the
sense that all I do on BATHORY albums are according to my personal
taste. Naturally I will hopefully be able to do things in such a way
that I am satisfied while in the writing and recording process. It must
always be interesting to work. It must never be a pain in the ass. But
the actual direction - the style and the whole form of BATHORY material
in large - is always a case of trying to get as close as we can to the
requests from the majority of our fan base.
When people write us and ask for a specific sound and style, the
requests may be very diverse. It depends on whether it's a 100%
Black/Death Metal fan writing us asking for more brutal stuff, or
whether it's a 100% Viking/Nordic Metal fan writing and asking for more
heavy Epic stuff. With every album we have produced, we have basically
always disappointed up to 50% of our fan base. You will not please our
more brutal Death Metal audience with an album like "Hammerheart"
or "Twilight of the Gods". By the same token, you will have no
sympathy from our Viking Metal audience if you release an album like
"Requiem" or "Octagon".
Then you tend to allow yourself to be led into either one or the
other direction of style. That is why perhaps our back catalogue may
seem pretty schizoid. Our third album "Under the Sign…"
contained a couple of tracks ("Enter the Eternal Fire" and
"Call from the Grave") which received a lot of response from
our fan base. They requested for more stuff like that. So we developed
that a bit further on our fourth album "Blood Fire Death" with
tracks like "Odens Ride over Nordland", "A Fine Day to
Die" and "Blood Fire Death" plus that sections of many of
the other more traditional Death stuff on that album were arranged
We began to arrange our music in layers, incorporating
multi-track-backing vocals, acoustic guitars and an atmospheric depth.
This was much liked by our audience. We began to sell much more albums,
receive a lot more fan mail and magazines stopped calling us Venom
clones. Considering that I have never owned a Venom album in all my
entire life, it felt weird to be dubbed a copy of something you knew
nothing about at all.
But the change from the material on albums like "Bathory"
and "The Return…" and the material on albums like "Hammerheart"
and "Twilight of the Gods", was a change that was requested by
the majority of our fan base, according to the fan mail. And the change
wasn't happening over night, it took several albums for that change to
occur. Now looking back, it is easy to compress time and just have a
quick look back on the albums, label them and say that "this is
Death" and "this is Viking". Our fan base asked for the
change but it took several years and several albums to happen.
Once we had done "Hammerheart" and "Twilight of the
Gods", we realized that our Death fans had been neglected. They
wrote us and begged for some brutal shit again. So we did
"Requiem" and "Octagon". By that time the entire
audience, not just BATHORY fans, were so used to BATHORY as "the
Vikings", that "Requiem" and "Octagon" was
received with a bit of a cold hand.
Since the Death and Viking styles are very hard to combine, it is
difficult to make an album containing both styles in an effort to
satisfy your entire fan base. So in a way the most important thing is to
make sure that at least the majority of your fan base gets what it want.
If you don't write us and let us know what you want from BATHORY, it is
impossible for us to know what to do. We can of course make an album
entirely by our own mind and heart, but we don't buy or own albums. I
don't even have the BATHORY CD's myself. The fans buy our albums. They
pay my rent. They put food on my table. They have made it possible for
me to live off my music. I haven't had a job for 15 years. They are the
reason for BATHORY having made albums for 18 years. Their request must
reign supreme as far as the style and sound of BATHORY is concerned.
How did the making of "Destroyer of Worlds" differ
from the making of "BLOOD ON ICE" as far as both the
song/lyric writing - and the time you spent in the studio are all
concerned? You had explained in very detailed way how much work you had
to sacrifice for putting all the songs together for "BLOOD ON
ICE" due to a large number of different things indeed, so maybe
"Destroyer of Worlds" got you off a bit more easily this time
Of course it was easier doing ""DESTROYER OF WORLDS"
than "Blood On Ice". "Blood On Ice" was recorded
over a number of years, on tape varying in width. We had to add a lot of
stuff and tie the story together. The reason for the rather extensive
booklet that came with "Blood On Ice" was to explain the whole
history of the making of "Blood On Ice". We started to record
"DESTROYER OF WORLDS" on the 24th of July. We worked for only
112 hours (that's the truth) in a demo studio in Stockholm.
I bet it was a rather time-consuming task to get the story
together for "BLOOD ON ICE", but while you were doing it, did
you have to scrap some of those ideas that were intended to be a part of
it due to way too different, "unfitting" ideas in them - and
instead of using them for "B.O.I.", you ended up saving some
of them for some of your future efforts possibly?
I think I understand what it is you are trying to say in a very nice
way. You're asking for "Blood On Ice" part II. "Blood On
Ice" was recorded during several sessions. We played with the idea
of making a concept album already around the "Blood Fire
Death" period, but cancelled the whole project when we realized
most of our fans were still into Death Metal. It had only been a couple
of years since we had done stuff like "The Return".
The "Blood On Ice sessions were never completed. During the
years that went by through interviews, fans found out about the
existence of the "Blood On Ice" material. They believed it to
be a complete album ready to be released in 24 hours.
It was a lot of work making it into an album. First of all we had to
copy all of the recorded material onto modern 2" tapes. Then we had
to decide what to keep and what to re-record. Much had never been done
properly either. Some of the songs lacked guitar solos, vocals or even
an ending etc.
There wasn't a tough or time-consuming task to write the story itself. I
just allowed myself to be liberally inspired by the Wagner operas and
the original Conan story written by Robert E Howard in the 1930's
sometime. It's not a "Viking" saga. It has nothing to do with
Sweden or Vikings at all. It's just a saga.
To fully answer your question, there are no original "Blood On
Ice" tracks left out and no material scrapped to be released at a
later stage. But we did cut out a middle section in a couple of songs
like "Revenge of the Blood On Ice", "One Eyed Old
Man" and "The Ravens".
Unlike ""BLOOD ON ICE"", which was pretty much a
thematic concept album, "D.O.W." contains very different
material both song - and lyric-wise; offering some epic
"Viking" Metal, Heavy Metal, Thrash Metal and even almost
straight Rock´n´Roll to its
listener. It´s like an album that sums up everything and almost every
musical style you have done on all your previous 9 albums. Was your main
purpose just to do so; to give all the BATHORY fans an album which could
contain everything that BATHORY has - and is - and will be all
about - and "Destroyer of Worlds", BATHORY´s 10th opus in order, was an ideal,
golden opportunity to recollect all these years together for just this
Well, like I said earlier; "DESTROYER OF WORLDS"
was tailor made for the taste of the many various groups of BATHORY
fans. We have fans who only enjoy the heavy, slow, powerful Viking
styled Nordic metal from some albums. And we have fans that enjoy only
the more brutal, hardcore death stuff we have done on other albums. In
order to please them all, we decided that this was the way it had to be
done after almost five years of resting.
What was - or what were the most challenging yet time-consuming
thing(s) you needed to face while putting the album together? One tiny
detail out of all this hard work must be figuring out the running order of the songs for "D.O.W."
Could it have been the
most ideal one for the album which, however, in the final end, adhered
to a certain order: The 1st three songs, "Lake of Fire", the
title track, ""Destroyer of Worlds" and "Ode"
could as well be placed onto either "Hammerheart" or
"Twilight of the Gods"; the most epic albums of the whole
BATHORY career. Then we get "Bleeding" which sounds very much
like a pure Thrash Metal song which, on the other hand, could easily be
placed on either "Requiem" or "Octagon" albums. With
the 5th song on "D.O.W.",
titled "Pestilence", we are thrown back to an epic world of
BATHORY again for a while ´til we get totally thrashed by
"109" and "Death from Above" - and so on and so on.
There seems to be this certain formula on the album how you´ve
obviously figured on while you have sketched out the running order of
the songs on a piece of paper in order to place the songs into some
certain musical periods - am I right?
But obviously figuring out the running order of these songs for "D.O.W."
was one of the minor things you had to go thru in this massive process
Well, I don't know if there ever was a massive process at
all. ""DESTROYER OF WORLDS" was the second most rushed
album we have ever done. I am not even sure we got all the guitar solos
done, some songs even had just temporary vocal lines and acoustic guitar
parts etc. We spent just two weeks (the studio report says 112 hours
effective time) doing the album. We didn't even have time to shit.
Because we had been working on this other project between late 1999 and
early 2000, then cancelled it and tried to come up with a mix of styles
that would please all of our fans, the release date had been pushed
forward all the time. So we had to rush things to have the album ready
for release on October the 8th. As a comparison the first album took 56
hours to do. This album was the second quickest we have ever done.
Some songs were given a different position on the album at the very last
moment so that the titles and lyrics come in a different order than the
actual tracks. The album cover was manufactured even before we had
recorded the album. Some have asked me if the World Trade Center
incident inspired the artwork, but the truth is that the cover was ready
already back in early July.
What kind of things actually caused all these delays to get
"Destroyer of Worlds" out earlier? Do you think if this album wasn´t so "rushed",
it would possibly have a bit different songs on it as well?
There were no delays with the actual release of
"Destroyer of Worlds". Like I said in my answer to your second
question; the delay was due to the fact we began a project that was
cancelled due to what the fan mail asked for. The release date was
pushed forward all the time making everybody believe that we have been
working on "Destroyer of Worlds" all this time.
We had a meeting with our record company in February this year during
which it was decided that it would probably be best if we, after so many
years of absence, would return with the classical BATHORY sound. The
ever forwarded release date kept people on their toes and made everybody
talk about this album even before we had started to record it.
It may have seemed that we have been working on "Destroyer of
Worlds" forever. But we began writing the material for
"Destroyer of Worlds on the 10th of June. We began recording on
July the 24th. Nothing of the material on "Destroyer of
Worlds" was ever intended for the cancelled album of 1999-2000.
These tracks didn't even exist back then. No material written and
worked-on in 1999-2000 is on "Destroyer of Worlds".
Of course "Destroyer of Worlds" could have sounded much
different if we would have had more time to work on it. Because of other
people having first their holiday to attend to, then working their
regular jobs during the day so that we could record only during the
evenings for a few hours, the recording of "Destroyer of
Worlds" turned out pretty rushed. I mean 112 hours is fucking
nothing. I have a hard time believing the studio report myself. But it's
accurate. We worked between 4-5 hours per evening for a couple of weeks.
Did the kind of thoughts ever cross your mind that you could have
recorded "Destroyer of Worlds" with a stable line-up, well, let´s say, dividing
of song writing between other members as well - and
that way, easing up your own efforts at the same time a little bit, too?
Or, are you basically that type of person who isn´t too keen on making
any compromises; that´s why you rather work alone than share your
musical ambitions and visions with anyone else except with yourself?
I have been working with one other person in the studio
this time as well. There has always been this stupid thing said about
BATHORY to be a one-man-band. Reality is that BATHORY is a studio
project. It is not a band. We don't think in terms of line-ups. BATHORY
is not a member's thing. We have no ambitions to be anything like any
other act. BATHORY is just the music on the releases.
So, could you then reveal who were the rest of the studio musicians
involved with the recording of D.O.W." ´coz there´s no credits -
whatsoever(!) for them to be found in the sleeves of that particular
album. Maybe that´s done on purpose, I don´t have a clue... And if
there´s always been some other musicians recording and playing some
instruments for the BATHORY albums, why haven´t you credited every dude
separately on each of the BATHORY release what their role have been on
those albums, etc. ´coz I´m pretty darn sure that people are dying to
find out the remaining warriors of the BATHORY -hordes by their real
names? There´s just no question that many people still think BATHORY is
a one-man band, run by Quorthon only...
"Reveal"…I am so amused how much people care
about "other musicians" or "line-ups". I have said
it millions of times and I don't know how many more ways that I can say
it. I play the guitar and bass plus doing all the vocals with a friend
of mine helping me out with the drums and the drum machine. BATHORY is a
studio project 100% and has been since 1989. If it would please anybody,
I can make up a lot of names just to please everybody who asks for
line-up names all the time. Allow me to just use an example from the
past. When we recorded the first album, the original line-up had just
split. The other two original members weren't interested in continuing.
They wanted to do other things in life and their interest was more
towards main stream heavy metal.
The number of fan mail in response to the two tracks on the
"Scandinavian Metal Attack" compilation we did in January 1984
was endless. The record company asked us to write material for a
full-length album. But there was no line-up.
Nobody had ever even thought about the band as something serious. We had
no ambitions to make records or make a name for ourselves at all. We
just wanted to have fun in the rehearsal place and play for the sake of
In order to record that first album, I asked a couple of friends of mine
to help me out. They were oi-punkers and easily adapted to the style.
After all, BATHORY's origin is a mixture of early Black Sabbath, early
Motörhead and early GBH. We spent just 56 hours recording the first
album. We were happy to have made an album. We were shit kids that had
just come out of school. I could never even have dreamed of what would
come out of this debut.
By the time the first album became such a tremendous hit, and it was
decided that we should make a second album, I still didn't think of
BATHORY as something that would go on into the 21st century.
At the time, the ever-ruling trend in Sweden was the sound and style of
Europe. Every asshole that I had coming down the rehearsal place to
audition, looked and played that shit. It didn't matter that we had a
record contract, people just didn't want to sweat and wear black spiked
leather. I would addition tons of bass players and drummers between 1984
and 1988. When some of the albums were recorded I could end up having
played up to 50% of the bass on a record.
When an album was released, the question was if we really should confuse
those who bought the record by have listed on the album cover a set of
names of people who were not in the band anymore. They might have played
on the tracks, but had decided that commercial metal was their thing and
consequently left shortly after the recording or even during the making
of an album. We decided to just release the albums without names and
Still someone had to answer questions when talking to the fanzines that
wrote us and asked for interviews. It was only natural that it was going
to be me answering the questions and occasionally my picture would be in
By the time we actually did have a stable line-up that stayed together
for more than 6 months and we actually could put a line-up photo and
names on an album ("Blood Fire Death"), people were so used to
the fucking one-man band issue. They just brushed the line-up shot off
as a fake. I realized then it didn't matter what we said or did, people
make their own mind up about things. So I stopped caring about all that
And I am still amazed that people are interested in knowing the name of
someone who might have banged on the drums on this or that song. I don't
even remember their names and I don't care to remember.
Now if you´re looking back, do you still remember what kind of
things inspired you to write such songs as "Lake of Fire",
"Destroyer of Worlds" and "109", for instance? As
far as I have understood while you were putting songs together for
"D.O.W.", you were
influenced and inspired by several different type of things at that
time; from great Viking-like stories to World War II to motorcycles to
even "socially aware" of topics - and even more really!
That´s quite "extraordinary" by the standards of BATHORY if you
ask from me or someone elz ´coz BATHORY is, however, mostly known for
its "blood-fire-death" themes more than anything.
I think it all depends on whom you are talking to. One fan
may regard BATHORY as an old death metal act that wimped out and started
to do Nordic stuff. Another fans may regard BATHORY as a Viking power
act that has a brutal death metal past. Some people may regard BATHORY
as either this or that.
That is the whole point. You aren't supposed to be able to pin BATHORY
down to one style and sound. BATHORY is a lot of things. BATHORY still
makes albums after 18 years despite no tours. And we sell more albums
today than we ever did in the 80's and the 90's. The pre-sale figures
for "DESTROYER OF WORLDS" is almost ten times higher than the
pre-sales figures for any other BATHORY album. All this is because
BATHORY is interesting and not tied to a temporary fashion or fad.
Any "Viking-stories"? I am not even mentioning anything Viking
related on all of "DESTROYER OF WORLDS".
I wrote a track about the old Messerschmitt Me 109, because there are so
many Spitfire exhibitions, Mustang TV programs, Flying Fortress books,
Hurricane posters and Thunderbolt movies around. I felt sorry for the
old 109. Also, because I know the Germans are hysterical about not
mentioning anything that has got anything to do with WW2, I always try
to slide something like that in on an album just to piss them off.
One Canadian journalist asked me once; -"How come that you, who are
such a big hockey fan, never did a hockey track?" He was of course
making a joke, but I though it was a great idea and wanted to be the
first to do a hockey track, and so I did "Sudden Death" just
"Krom" is about riding a Harley-Davidson, which I do. A fan
wrote me and said that I had stated so many times that Motörhead was
one of the reasons for the start of BATHORY. Yet BATHORY had never done
anything related to motors. I had already used the sound of my bike on a
track on my second solo album, but that particular track wasn't about
bikes, it was just about breaking away. This time the whole track was
about riding a Harley.
"Death From Above" is about the bombing of Berlin in WW2.
Again, because the Germans are allergic to WW2, I wanted to use that
topic and paint with words the imagery of around the clock bombing of a
civilian target in WW2. I am not taking a side, I just simply describing
actual facts. I was in Berlin one time when this enormous thunderstorm
broke out one evening. The combination of that ever present smell of
typical German brown coal and all that lightning sort of inspired the
lyric to "Death from Above".
"White Bones" is a true story. We had some cases of young
women in Scandinavia ending up in Swedish and Norwegian black cults. I
just wanted to describe the true story of this American girl who ended
doing the same thing some twenty years ago.
"Destroyer of Worlds" is about Openheimer who if not invented
so at least put together the first practical atomic bomb. I read a
biography on Openheimer. There was this moment when he watched the blast
of the first atomic bomb in the Nevada desert that summer of 1944, when
he remembered a part from an old Hindu script referring to the death god
Shiva. When Shiva one day came down to earth, he introduced himself to
an old man as death - the destroyer of worlds. That split second when
Openheimer was suppose to have been just as happy as all the rest of the
crew around him, he felt sad and realized the powers they had just
unleashed. So he spoke out loud to himself that now he had become death
- the destroyer of worlds. After having spent some 4 years, some 200.000
hours and some 6 billions US dollars on trying to construct an atomic
bomb, and now it actually worked, he should have been very happy indeed.
But then there was this moment when he realized what they had actually
done. I really liked that contrast that occurred within a split second
going from joyous celebration to seriousness. At the end of the song you
can hear how the bomb is carried afar over Hiroshima (that is why there
are Japanese instruments in there).
If anyone finds Viking or satanic stuff in there, it is more the
imagination of the listener and the idea of BATHORY as either a satanic
death metal act or a Nordic Viking act, more than anything else. I was
very careful not to use those topics.
Another question goes, did you kind of want to break the basic rules
of BATHORY this time a bit more and somewhat "conquer" new,
untouched venues (mostly lyrically, tho.) where BATHORY has never been
that determinedly earlier before?
In a way, lyrically some new ground was won on
"DESTROYER OF WORLDS". Musically you always have to take great
measures not to stride away too much. The material that we scrapped last
year was much more progressive lyrically as well as musically. The
lyrics on "DESTROYER OF WORLDS" I think do not achieve a
revolution as far as BATHORY is concerned. It's still BATHORY in a way
but with a slightly different touch.
By now, people, I mean the fans around you, really should realize
that there´s really no limits for you to deal with several, different
types of topics in your lyrics whereas many other bands really cannot
move too much lyrically or musically by getting stuck with some certain
styles and themes for the rest of their lives due to bands´ image
and genres where they are coming from. Still, aren't you afraid
of losing some of the credibility which you´ve gained over the years by
moving your limits further and further constantly by breaking certain
rules within the world of BATHORY both music and lyric-wise as well?
What could some of these disadvantages possibly be in your opinion with
regard to the very matter here indeed?
One bit of stretching the limit back in the mid 80's was a
track like "Enter the Eternal Fire" which received much more
response than all the rest of the material on "Under the Sign…".
If so many of your fans write you and beg for more like that you'll
expand further. If we hadn't expanded and picked up other sounds and
topics, we would either still sound like the sons of Satan or no longer
exist at all. Then nothing of the so-called Viking Metal period would
ever have happened.
If after 18 fucking years and 17 fucking releases we can not make a song
about motorcycles or ice hockey without people scratching their heads
wondering how the hell we dare to pick up other topics than hell or
broadswords, then there are two ways to go. Either you give up for being
too afraid to write about anything else than one single topic, then
you'll die artistically and stay in the same corner all your life. Or
you don't give a fuck and just try to mind about your more intelligent
fans and keep on being creative.
People have always had bigger problems with BATHORY's image and the
image of Quorthon than I have. There have always been so many strange
rumors around BATHORY fanning the image and legend of BATHORY. Some say
that I eat babies flesh, drink blood and live in a cave in the North of
Sweden. Some say that I am a satanic neo-nazi Viking. Some say I died in
1991 and was replaced by the record company. I stopped caring at the end
of the 80's. People were either saying that BATHORY were the original
Black Metal gods that wimped-out, or BATHORY was the creators of Viking
Metal with a satanic history. Everybody wanted to pin you down
While we did care about the majority of the fan mail that we received in
the past couple of years asking for a classical BATHORY album in the
1987-1990 style, we didn't want to use the word Viking or pick up
Satanic topics again. In some ways you have so make it clear that time
is ever changing. If you stand still for enough long time you are going
to shit on your own shoes. I went great length to re-create the feeling
of the 1987-1990 period on "Destroyer of Worlds". But that
doesn't mean that you have to copy yourself to the letter all the time.
I bet many BATHORY fans have been asking this constantly from you
many, many times, but why don´t you consider doing a
sequel for "Blood Fire Death" or "Hammerheart"
albums as those were the ones that are probably considered as the
all-time classic, stand-out BATHORY albums on your flattering career
We have been asked to at least consider doing an album that
would be very close to "Hammerheart". I am not sure that would
be the best thing to do. I think "Twilight of the Gods" and
"Blood On Ice" both were very close to "Hammerheart".
If people enjoyed "Hammerheart" or "Blood Fire
Death", then they're there for all to listen to forever. I believe
some fans may want BATHORY to stay static to one style and sound
forever. "Hammerheart" is one of the favorite albums of the
fans and I agree that it is a very distinct record as far as the
atmosphere is concerned. But it is more interesting to celebrate the
past for what it was without duplicating it all the time and stay
Besides, the past is the past and you can really neither go back and
change any of that what you´ve done previously - nor you could hardly
re-create something precisely, y´know, with the same sounds or
atmospheres what you may have accomplished on some certain releases. All
you can really do is to stick with the future and see what you could
possibly do and achieve in the terms of imagination and your own
creativity - agree?
Of course. If you can enter the 21st Century and still have
the same genuine atmosphere on your albums, then you have achieved
something hardly any other act has been able to do. Slayer will always
have everything they will ever do compared to "Reign in Blood"
even if they should come up with an album that actually is a better one.
I know that everything that BATHORY will ever do will always be compared
to the 1985-1990 period.
So, as a mouthpiece for the other BATHORY maniacs, I bravely spit out
a question in the air once again, filled with a huge curiosity, is there
ever going to be either "Blood Fire Death pt.2." or "Hammerheart
No. Not just like that. We are not going to call it part II
anyway. We might do a record in the future that may sound just a little
bit like "Hammerheart". But again, the fans will have to
decide. If the fans can convince us that an album just like "Hammerheart"
is what we really should do, then of course it all ends up in a
different light all together.
I was wondering whether you could be so kind and let us know
something ´bout your working methods at the legendary Heavenshore
Studio? What´s so special in that studio indeed why you always find
yourself recording your new albums there? Is it a certain calm and
relaxed atmosphere that is haunting there all the time or is there
something totally special and unique in the equipment there that some
other studios simply don´t have at all? And have you ever considered recording your
albums somewhere else besides Heavenshore Studio, well, let´s just
say, for the sake of new, refreshing inspirations, for example?
BATHORY, UNDER THE SIGN, BLOOD FIRE DEATH and HAMMERHEART were all
recorded at Heavenshore. THE RETURN, TWILIGHT, REQUIEM, OCTAGON and most
of BLOOD ON ICE were done in professional 24-track studios.
Heavenshore was not a studio. It was garage with some old
recording equipment in it. Technically it was really awful. I could do
albums technically better in my living room if I had the same equipment.
We only used Heavenshore because it was cheap, available and we could
come and go as we liked. There was absolutely nothing special about
Heavenshore at all. Sometimes we couldn't even record there because it
would be either full with car-parts, tons of gravel or have no
electricity. We could only use up to 12 tracks on some songs.
I believe people only made Heavenshore legendary, greater, bigger or
more special than it actually was. It's like everything about BATHORY.
It's a circus of legends beyond control.
"DESTROYER OF WORLDS" was not recorded at Heavenshore. Because
Heavenshore does not exist anymore. It was torn down in 1995.
All this, I did NOT know at all. It´s funny, however, how some
(cult) status has been gained for Heavenshore by a simple fact that
BATHORY has recorded some albums there - people making up these
"legends" - dare to I say, basically "out of
nothing", if you know what I mean?
I have always said that the legend of BATHORY is bigger
than BATHORY itself. I don't know if that makes any sense to anyone. But
to me it is so obvious. I believe people enjoy making up these rumors
and legends to enrich and lighten up their own lives, to make things
more exciting than they really are.
As long as people deep down inside know that this or that rumor or
legend is quite possibly just made up by someone, then it is ok. But if
someone actually does believe in it all, it can hinder a straight
communication between yourself and your fans.
I think it could be well possible to re-build the Heavenshore studio
again; only this time making it like a REAL studio and putting the most
advanced studio technology in there in order to make some decent
sounding recordings there sometimes in the future - probably for the
very 1st time of the history of that particular studio. It may well be a
good, golden opportunity for someone to make some business in the name
of Heavenshore as that place itself, has already gained such a value as
a legendary studio amongst some people at least. Well, what do you think
all this I just threw in the air here... ?
Well, people would have to ask the folks that live in that
house today. The fucking place is a fucking garage. I don't think
anybody would ever consider your garage or your neighbors garage any bit
exciting or historical at all. The BATHORY records are interesting for
the extreme metal history. But Heavenshore was simply just a fucking
garage. It doesn't exist anymore. Nobody would spend a single dollar
trying to make that into a modern studio with modern equipment. There
are tons of studios to record in, you know.
This whole thing with Heavenshore is ridiculous really. I mean, it was
just a garage with some small recording equipment in it. It is the name
Heavenshore that is legendary. It's just a garage that we named
Heavenshore. How exciting is that? Here's another legend that people
continue to kneel before as part of the BATHORY legend. If we would have
put a picture of the place on the album cover and called it
"garage", it wouldn't have resulted in all this hysteria.
What kind of expectations are you personally running towards
"Destroyer of Worlds"? How do you want it to be remembered
amongst the other BATHORY albums ´coz I´m pretty positive it´s going
to divide opinions due to its diverse songs on it anyway?
I know it will divide our fan base into several camps,
because every BATHORY album has done so. You don't live or die by one
album alone. If you don't like it - that's ok. If you like it - then
that's ok too. I have no expectations from ""DESTROYER OF
WORLDS" at all. As soon as an album is released I think no more of
it ever. I don't ever think about "Hammerheart" or "The
Return" or any other BATHORY album. I can not even remember all of
the songs on those albums. I don't even have any of the BATHORY albums
myself. I had Black Mark send me some CD's this spring to catch up on
WHAT?! SERIOUSLY??! You DO NOT HAVE any of your albums in your own
personal collection!? Are you kidding me?! How is
that possible?! Why are you ignoring all the releases you have made by
yourself such a strange and odd way? And I don´t think I´m the only
one wondering this...
Well, I can listen to Motörhead's "Iron Fist",
Black Sabbath's "Black Sabbath", Kiss' "Alive!" or
Sex Pistols' "God Save the Queen" and enjoy all of that as a
fan. But listening to BATHORY is just work. I will always hear this
guitar or that vocal line and think of how I could work more on that
until I remember it is already released and it can not be worked on
It is not for being ashamed of the past that I didn't collect the
BATHORY albums, I just knew I wasn't going to listen to them so I didn't
bother about collecting them. When we decided to do what the fans wanted
and make "Destroyer of Worlds" remind of the 1987-1990 period,
I asked Black Mark to send me some old CD's. Listening to those old
songs made it easier to remember how I used to write material in those
days and what the atmosphere on those albums was like.
The cover of "Destroyer of Worlds" is pretty exceptional to be used as a
BATHORY album cover in my opinion. The only element there is fire; a
massive sea of flames - and if you have got sharp eyes, you can actually
spot a figure of some sort of "a twisted, laughing (joker´s?) face
out of that all. Is that just a coincidence that there´s really this
face sticking out on the top of the flames - or was it put there on
purpose? What´s the symbolic meaning of it or does it have any at all?
Fire consumes all life, fire is alive and comes from
nowhere. The demon of fire has fascinated man since the dawn of time.
The title track deals with the creation and implementation of the first
atomic bomb. I didn't want an atomic mushroom cloud or any military or
political symbolism on the cover. Just fire. The backside of the album
shows the aftermath of destruction - a cloud of ashes.
Did you have any other ideas in your mind at that time to be used as
a cover for "D.O.W." except this "fire"-thing? And
was the cover originally chosen by you only or do these credits belong
to someone else possibly?
No, I just wanted to have the feel of fire and destruction
to be present on the cover. The track that had the best title that could
also be used for the entire album happened to be "Destroyer of
Worlds" and the whole topic behind the title track was the creation
of the atomic bomb. I didn't want any war imagery as such on the cover.
It wasn't about war but about the demon of destruction as such.
I have seen so many album covers in the last couple of years leaning
towards a clearly identifiable trend. There are either plenty of dragon
images and castles giving the impression you're looking at a fantasy
game magazine, or you have all these naked women and close up shots of
tits and asses, you don't know if you're looking at a metal album or a
porno magazine. I wanted to break the trend. It doesn't look like a
cover from the year 2001.
It goes without saying that BATHORY are kept as the true torch
bearers in the evolution of modern Black Metal. Your influence in the
whole Black Metal movement is undeniable and yet BATHORY still keep on
inspiring many new up´n´coming bands in many different ways - who
knows how many generations from this day forward. How have you felt for being in the very spotlight of success
and fame through all these years and what all this "stardom"
has taught to you ´bout the music business in general?
Of course BATHORY has had this tremendous effect on
hundreds of acts for almost 20 years now. BATHORY has dealt with such a
vast number of styles and sounds throughout the years, in the end you
will have influenced a great number of bands.
I remember when Kerrang wrote after the release of our first album, that
we were only Venom clones. But we had actually never heard venom at all.
I heard Venom for the first time in late 1984 or early 1985. I believe
that there were a handful of acts in Europe and the USA that came out
all at the same time just doing the same thing, acts like Sodom,
Kreator, Hellhammer, Possessed, Metalica and Slayer. Today's Black Metal
is more influenced by BATHORY's Viking styled epic metal than Venom
which - looking back - is more Black Rock.
Sometimes I receive a CD or a cassette from a young band asking me what
I think about it. Most of what they do is so close to actual tracks from
earlier BATHORY albums, it's quite funny sometime. I have to check if
it's not a tribute to BATHORY or something. I feel honored of course. I
regard all this, as proof that what BATHORY did over these past 18 years
was right, good and original.
What I never liked is all the tons of people who make me out to be this
satanic, neo-nazi, vampire, baby eating, blood drinking Viking who lives
in a bats cave in the north of Sweden and never goes out in the
sunlight. I did my best to scare the most fanatic nutcases away with my
solo albums. I did blues, rock, punk, unplugged ballads and fun pop.
This material was of course not intended for the smart BATHORY fans,
just to get rid of all the nutcases who hailed me as some sort of God
and made me out to be something I wasn't.
I have been doing everything a guy into the rock bag ever dreamed of
doing. I have done TV, radio and press. I have signed tens of thousands
of autographs. I have fucked hundreds of girls in limousines and 747's.
I have had the pleasure of recording tons of my own music. I have been
involved in 17 releases up to date. I have traveled to more than 20
countries. I have made so much money. I haven't had to take a real job
for 12 years. I have had a million laughs and I have privately
corresponded with many hundreds of very special and wonderful fans for
almost two decades. And when I'm dead and cremated the music of BATHORY
and the love of the BATHORY HORDES will still top it all. The BATHORY
fans are the best fans that ever existed. That is why
""DESTROYER OF WORLDS" is dedicated to the fans.
... and one of these coolest BATHORY fans must be a long time friend
of both yours and mine, Chuck Keller of (ex-ORDER FROM CHAOS, ex-VULPECULA)
ARES KINGDOM from Kansas City, U.S.A.. He has told me like you and he
share this very special connection; like for being distant cousins who
just happen to live in a very different continents or something like
that - and who have been knowing each other for so many years already.
You actually thanked him for ´inspiration´ on "Hammerheart"
album!! How did he inspire you at that time while you were putting songs
together for the "Hammerheart" album if I may ask... ? At
least I do know that you two share some similar interests: WWII, Wagner,
Nietzhe, etc., but obviously there´s just even more between two of you
than I´m aware of really...
I hope "more" does not incline butt fucking or
something (don´t all the guys do that to each other in Sweden?! NO!?
HA! HA!! Just kidding ya there, of course!! -Luxi). Chuck was one of
many fans with whom I corresponded for many years. I have always
corresponded with tons of fans. I enjoy getting a personal connection
with people who are at the receiving end of BATHORY. Sometimes fan mail
can simply be of the sort "I listen to your albums 24 hours a day
and you are my God". You don't get too much of a personal touch out
of that and it's very hard to expand further once someone make you his
or her god already in the opening sentence in a letter.
Chuck played in a band himself and it was interesting to correspond with
someone who wasn't just a fan but a musician himself. The life
situation, background and everyday situation of most fans that wrote me
was of course very different from my daily life in Sweden. You need to
meet with other views and have peeks into rooms other than your own.
I was down in Portugal many years ago and met hundreds of fans who's
everyday situation was totally different from the safe and sheltered
life of Swedish youngsters. I had the impression many of them lived a
very tough life. Some looked like street kids that hadn't had a bath in
weeks. They bought a BATHORY album even though it must have cost them
possibly a week of hard and dirty labor if they even had a job.
Other times Russian, Chinese or even Burmese kids have written me to say
how much they're taken away by the waves on "Shore in Flames"
or the atmosphere on "Bond of Blood". And you think of the
fortune that LP or CD must have cost them and how very hard it must have
been for them to even get their hands on it. And even though they may
just have a third generation cassette that could never reproduce the
original recording, it still catches you off guard completely to receive
response like that. Things like that gives you perspective.
Chuck and I haven't written for a couple of years. He got married to a
Danish pastry and moved to Denmark I believe (Nope! He still lives in
Kansas City with his lovely Danish wife! -Luxi) . I moved as well,
twice, before I returned to Stockholm. I traveled a lot in 1996-1999 and
did so many other things in life I haven't kept in touch with any of
those I used to correspond with during the 80's and 90's. It was healthy
to get away from that constant "You're my god!" issue and that
"Are you really drinking blood?" bag.
The reason for mentioning someone on the credit list of an album can be
whatever. To thank somebody for "inspiration" can be anything
really. I had a flight stewardess on credit list on some album, and the
only thing she did was giving me a blowjob during a flight.
I think it is safe to say that for anybody to end up on a BATHORY album
credit list, one has sort of excelled in a way. I have put my rat down
in one credit list. I have the names of old masters like Wagner,
journalists, magazines or radio stations which has supported BATHORY in
one way or another.
When some fans somewhere formed their own BATHORY fan club or just
called themselves the BATHORY whatever from wherever, I got that down in
the credit list. Years afterwards, I have been contacted by fans that
may have just recently picked BATHORY up and discovered that the area
where they live or to which they have just moved have its own BATHORY
fan club. And so they write me and ask for the address and all I can
tell them is they're about 10-12 years to late.
I guess one of the biggest reasons for that why BATHORY is still
classed as an obscure and somewhat oddball act, is the hard´n´cold
fact you haven´t ever played a single live show with BATHORY. People
find it somehow mysterious and strange for a damn good reason ´coz
BATHORY has been around since March 1983; over 18 years - and of course
it´s very natural to expect that within all these 3 decades that
BATHORY has survived thru more or less successfully, at least a tiny
bunch of gigs could have been played - maybe even some tours could have
been accomplished by now, but nothing like that has happened ever thus
Well, sometimes when people ask me when are we going to
play, I say I play with myself every night. But I guess that is not what
they ask for. Seriously, there was a time in the 80's when all we wanted
was to get on the road. But we didn't have the money or the organization
behind us. I gave up the whole idea of tours and stuff like that in the
late 80's. I said, let's make BATHORY a studio project. Our music had
progressed so much by that time it would have been impossible to
duplicate on stage what we did on record.
Also, I was fed up with all the bullshit in the media. I don't know if
you are old enough to remember, but there were actually a time when all
the magazine editorial staff was filled with old journalists who still
believed that Led Zeppelin existed and considered Iron Maiden and Judas
Priest to be true metal. They looked upon us and all the rest of the
extreme metal scene as spotty little brats who didn't know how to play
and that we were going to be gone in a year and hence we were ridiculed
and treated as scum.
Every time when I traveled to do promotion, people were more concerned
with convincing me to wear spiked leather underwear and breath fire. I
said that the music is important too.
English Metal Hammer said that we evidently wanted to prove to the world
that we were Swedish by having the sound of a moose farting in the
distance. The sound was the sound of ancient Swedish bronze horns. That
only shows just how terribly ignorant and vicious their intent was.
Several magazines wrote more about how stupid it was to pretend being
satanic and how bad musicians all these young bands were. In the mid
80's I remember Kerrang put King Diamond against the wall and made him
out to be nothing more than a Danish alcoholic clown and not this true
satanic medium he pretended to be. I never liked King Diamond at all,
but he is just acting and performing a role just like Ozzy or Gene
Simmons, but for the media to treat an artist in that fashion was more
than I could care to take.
BATHORY was treated equally bad particularly by the German media. They
called us neo-nazi for using certain symbols or when we based a song or
two on topics that was taboo mentioning in that particular country more
than in any other.
So, after a last effort in the late 80's to build an organization behind
us and to take BATHORY on the road, I said I was fed up with it all. And
from then it has been the music, and nothing more than music. We haven't
even had an official photo session since 1988. The only pictures taken
since has been snapshots taken by a fan or a journalist.
I indeed remember reading some articles ´bout BATHORY from some
"supposedly professional (WOO-HOO!!!)" (metal) magazines
sometimes in the mid ´80s - those articles saying how bad and awful
BATHORY was without any real talent and how they were only full of noise
and how they were infested by a senseless Satanic crap that had no
chance to survive
in the long run - whatever! I´m not 100% sure, but I guess it was
probably a magazine like KER-CRAP! That was putting BATHORY down
constantly; or at least some of their unfair and negative journalism has
been judged by some metal bands both in the past and in the present.
Besides, I think the British journalism regarding new Heavy Metal bands
outside of the Great
Britain wasn´t too fair and equal at all due to a strong and dominating
NWOBHM - boom at that time. If you weren´t a British - or weren´t made
out of the mould of JUDAS PRIEST or IRON MAIDEN or BLACK SABBATH
musically, then there´s just no way that you could have been treated or
rated as equally as some Brit Heavy Metal bands by some of these
know-all Brit journalists whose values towards metal music in general,
were stuck with the traditional British heavy shit more than a Heavy
Metal doctor had ordered. Of course it was sad for all the bands with a
in them that were out of that norm and were not allowed to be THAT
radically unique and original in this great island of Heavy Metal by
coming up with something totally different by contrast with the current
trends in those days. And BATHORY were definitely NOT everyone´s
all-day happy shining standard metal band in the early ´80s; just loved
and hailed by minority of metalheads who supposedly were after more
obscure and original bands - probably getting fed up by the all the way
praised NWOBHM -thing completely and ultimately, too - you just never
know. Anyways, can you remember, however, what was that
"stand-out" BATHORY album that really started to turn some of
these ol´ metal journalists´ heads in mags like KERRANG! and UK METAL
HAMMER - "I-love-NWOBHM" branded on their foreheads, towards more
acceptable and positive direction when some promo stuff of BATHORY was
sent to their shaking headquarters for "a fair review (yeaa....
sure...)"? And do you believe that they just had to go along with the mainstream´s
opinion in order to maintain some sort of journalistic credibility
amongst one of the world wide most important medias - specialized for
metal music and somehow show and prove to the rest of the world at the
same time that they are open-minded people and can be renewed by
brand-new trends and genres as well - even understand bands like BATHORY,
You have to remember that the history of English rock and
metal is a lot more to be proud of than the history of Swedish, Finish,
German or French rock and metal. The English had a lot more to defend
and a lot more to lose. That generation of journalists was at least
fifteen years older than we were. They had grown up listening to Deep
Purple and Led Zeppelin. They considered the only good metal to be Iron
Maiden, Whitesnake and UFO.
The whole range of extreme metal bands was probably not treated with
full respect in those days. Many of us were considered a joke, a fad.
It's sad that a magazine like Kerrang began to feature all those
militant-vegetarian, save the planet kinds of bands, all while they
turned their back on the rest of the metal spectrum. They lost out on a
big and creative metal scene and an enormous audience.
But then magazines of other nations have treated individual acts from
the extreme metal scene rather ugly as well. It has to do with the fact
that journalists some times allows too much of their personal taste and
friendship with certain acts to show through in their reviews and
articles. I never read reviews on BATHORY records and I hardly ever read
my own articles.
Will your principles still remain the same in the
future as well - just like you once planned your own
stratagem as far as BATHORY´s live appearance is
So, you wouldn´t be even interested in doing a single
one-off gig if some gig organizer offered you a
backpack full of $$$... ?
It is not a question of money. We have been offered huge
sums of money to do a show. But people I am afraid are really missing
Since 1989 BATHORY is a studio project. We make music on record. Who the
hell will be on that stage? Me plus a friend of mine helping me out with
the drums? People expect these Viking ships to sail across the stage.
People want flying drums and bombs. Even in the 90's people asked me to
dress up in black spiked leather, breath fire and spit blood for
pictures. People cared more about an image and theatre. BATHORY is all
about an atmosphere on record.
I have been to two concerts in ten years. I am not a concert person and
get nothing out of that.
You were close to join in a tour with DESTRUCTION and CELTIC FROST in
the Summer of ´86, arranged by IMPORTANT RECORDS, but however, the
timing for that wasn´t right at all due to a massive Hard/Glam Rock
boom that was raging around Sweden and the rest of the world at that
fateful time - men dressing up and sounding like girls and being
complete clowns and "whores" back then. The main problem was
you couldn´t get a live line-up hired with guys with the right enough
attitude, determination and the same innovation which you had, so that
opportunity for playing live was soon to be buried. Was that incident
something to give a starting shot for speeding up your decisions to keep
BATHORY as a studio band only which would NEVER play live - no matter
how much your fans would have wanted or deserved to see BATHORY onstage?
I have no memories at all concerning that cancelled US
tour. I can not remember which other bands was suppose be touring with
us or what the management was called or anything. I only remember that
we were supposed to go on a US tour together with a couple of other acts
Our drummer had just quit the band after "The Return" because
he had to do the army for a year. Our bass player at the time was taking
so much drugs I told him he had to step aside. I auditioned several bass
players and wrote a letter to Carsten Nielsen in Artillery and asked him
if he could consider joining BATHORY. But he replied that Artillery was
going to be much bigger than BATHORY ever could be. So I called
Witchhunter from Sodom and asked him. He did come to Stockholm and we
did rehearse for a week or so. But after a while we realized that our
fans respectively would be very confused.
I also auditioned several other bass players and drummers during most of
the 80's. But BATHORY was deemed so different from what was going on in
the mid stream rock scene in Sweden at the time it was pointless really.
It's true that Sweden was an awful place for a band like BATHORY in the
80's. If the rest of the world was just as bad, due to the Bon Jovi,
Poison and Motley Crue fashion, Sweden was even more a misery as far as
powerful metal was concerned. Europe was the big act in Sweden at the
time and every other guitar-based band was supposed to look and sound
like them. Although Sweden is a big country we have a very small
population, so the effect that Europe had on the rock scene in Sweden
was tremendous. Their sound and style dominated supreme and influenced
everybody other rock act to play that stuff even though they might have
wanted to be different.
When I auditioned bass players and drummers, it didn't matter that we
had a record contract and had made several albums and that we were
suppose to tour Europe and the US in the future. Because BATHORY didn't
look and sound like Europe the guy's who auditioned decided not to join.
Yes, Sweden was an awful place for extreme metal. Today it is totally
different. There are so many acts in Sweden doing all sorts of extreme
metal, which is great. And my personal belief is that BATHORY is
responsible for that to a very great extent. But in those days it was
totally dead to be playing this sort of music.
We couldn't get a club gig in Stockholm because the club owners were
concerned they weren't going to be able to sell drinks to BATHORY fans
and that we would scare away the Glam-rock audience. I remember one bass
player said that we weren't going to get laid after concert if we would
play this type of music and look like Satan's brothers.
There is this famous story about one guy whom I talked to over the
phone. He was going to audition for BATHORY and I warned him that we
were kind brutal musically. He said that he was so tired of his band and
that he was ready to join my band no matter what we sounded like. He
came to our rehearsal place and we played him the first album. He left
the rehearsal place after three minutes and didn't come back.
When I think back, I am surprised that I didn't give up and just took a
job or something. There are so many guy's from that time who were in
Stockholm bands copying Europe and Bon Jovi who said to me that I was an
idiot and an asshole for doing what I did with BATHORY and that it was a
waste of time. When I am going to some rock clubs in Stockholm, I
occasionally bump into these guys again. They never did get to make a
record, and they still dress in spandex and spray their hair, talking
about maybe having secured a contract with a label. In the daytime they
drive a taxi or clean up the subway. And here I am, after 18 years still
making albums. And I am not driving a taxi. I do not dream dreams that
will never happen, pretending to be a rock star in a club at night and a
dreamer during the day.
Lucky you, HA! HA! HA!! Don´t you ever feel any pity for these
"rock stars" who were saying all this bullshit that you
should get a real job for yourself instead of playing "a very
crappy noise" and not scaring old people and kids by your utterly
Satanic and evil appearance? I bet there´s a pitiful bunch of
"almost rock stars (tell me ´bout them!)" in the Stockholm
area who´re now envying you because of what you have achieved and
become in your life compared to their lives that probably suck
dogs´ shit these days, eh?!
No. In moments of victory only a truly great person will be
humble. A low person ridicules and mocks their beaten enemy. We have to
remember that BATHORY was a lot of noise at that time and even I would
have said the same thing had I been invited to BATHORY's rehearsal place
to hear the stuff that we did back then.
The greatness of BATHORY is that we developed and did our best to
create, to be interesting and innovative. Today BATHORY is considered
truly original even though the style and sound of our music has changed
considerably over the 18 years that BATHORY has existed.
The other greatness of BATHORY is that we have the best of fans. Again
that is why "Destroyer of Worlds" is dedicated to the fans.
A Viking culture has been more than obviously something very special
for you personally where you´ve been drawing a great number of
influences from into everything what BATHORY has become known for on the
albums like "Blood Fire Death" and "Hammerheart".
When did you start showing a real serious interest
towards them and their rich (and cruel) culture anyway and what has
their great history taught you? The music life of Vikings in those days, for example? Hmmmm.... sometimes the only ´music(!)´
for their ears may have been a moaning of dying enemies... a crying of
abandoned babies whose mothers were just brutally raped and murdered by
these horned warrriors...
I know absolutely nothing of the music of the Swedish
Vikings, they didn't have tape recorders. Seriously I don't think that
the Viking age was any more rich or cruel than any other period in
history. And the Viking history weren't any bit greater than any other
time in world history. By the way, they didn't have horns in their
helmets. They were great sea merchants. And they raped or killed no more
or less than Napoleon, Rome, USA or any other culture in any time. This
whole idea of the Viking as barbarians killing, raping and plundering
for fun is Hollywoodism I call it. The Christian church did that for 700
years. BATHORY was never a satanic act but we have always been
When we did the first album, we had absolutely idea what Satanism was
all about at all. We just wrote stuff that came from horror films and
horror magazines. We were not Satanists at all. By the time we did the
second album, I had read a lot on the satanic topic as well as the
Christian bible. But after that I came to the conclusion that it was all
just bullshit. Christianity was based on a Jewish fairytale and had
nothing to do with my part of the world. God was a fascist - you shall
no other Gods have and worship but me etc.
Looking for something else to write about, I said that maybe we should
pick something up that wasn't influenced by modern society, which in
essence, is Christian. We didn't want to go political and criticize
modern society and write about the environment, which was high fashion
in those days.
When we started BATHORY we were too young to ride bikes and fuck all
these girls and drink Jack Daniel's for breakfast. So we picked up the
satanic demonic topics from all those horror movies and magazines we had
watched and read as kids.
Looking further back in time I realized that maybe Sweden in the time
before Christianity came around was a good topic for future lyrics. I
did read a lot on the Nordic mythology, but we didn't go fundamentalist
about it all. We just used the Swedish nature and the imagery from a
pre-Christian time to create an atmosphere on our records that was so
different from what all other acts were doing at the time.
We arranged our music and used sound effects to create an atmosphere of
the north twelve hundred years ago before there was a Satan or a Christ.
We didn't pretend to know all about the Viking age, we just borrowed
ingredients from that time. We didn't even call it Viking Metal. All
that was a thing that came later and it was mostly an imagination thing
among our fan base.
So, do you think some of the media people should be credited by
inventing this term, "Viking Metal", for describing all that
shamelessly bold and epic atmosphere that your songs have so well
captured on "Blood Fire Death" album first - and which
thematically continued both on "Hammerheart" as well as on
"Twilight of the Gods" albums later on?! Or, was this
"Viking Metal" thing totally your label´s, BLACK MARK´s
merit more or less?
Black Mark had nothing to do with labeling any type of
music we have ever done on record. But I remember when we released
"Twilight of the Gods", and because I had mentioned that I
listened to mostly opera's of Wagner, how somebody came up with the term
Opera Metal. It was just an attempt on their behalf to label what to
many was very different from what the rest of the acts were doing at
that time. But that was a short-term phrase used only on the release
flyer. But other than that, they have never ever interfered one bit with
our music. We have always been given 100% freedom.
In our very first interviews 17 years ago we stated that we played Death
Metal and I believe it was the very first time that terminology was ever
used. We developed musically and lyrically during the middle 80's and
people got confused, calling what we did anything from thrash, epic,
doom and Nordic whatever. The "Requiem" and
"Octagon" albums were called hardcore. When "Hammerheart"
came out, because of the cover, "The burial of a Viking" by
Sir Frank Dicksee, people labeled it Viking Metal despite the fact that
we never called what we did anything like it.
Today we use these many terms ourselves to of course simplify what we
mean when talking about changes and contrasts musically. That is also
the reason why these terms are used by the media. So by and large it is
not a bad thing. But some acts may find a specific term that is being
stuck to them by somebody else uncomfortable.
Just out of my never-ending, burning curiosity, was there any bands
out there that had some impact on you musically on your earlier
recordings - and what ´bout with "Destroyer of Worlds"? Do
you dare to name MANOWAR f.ex. as some kind of an influence for BATHORY,
mostly on lyrical level, tho?
I have always said that if you want to know where the
initial BATHORY stuff came from, all you have to do is to listen to
early Black Sabbath, early Motörhead and early GBH at the same time.
The other two original members of BATHORY may not always have shared my
views on what we really should be doing musically. But on the other hand
they never showed an interest to contribute. They were into anything
even remotely similar to metal in all forms. I even wrote a song to
intentionally remind of early Iron Maiden because they once requested
for something that wasn't all going at full pace.
I began to listen to classical music around 1985. Eventually that would
be the only music that I listened to. So I am afraid I can not help much
in trying to explain from where we would possibly have picked up
As far as Manowar in concerned, I had never heard a Manowar song. I only
knew what they looked like. My initial idea was that you couldn't take a
band for real if they wore fur underwear. The guy, who was the drummer
in BATHORY in 1986-1989, was not a metal fan at all. He listened to
David Bowie, Johnny thunders and Sex Pistols. However, for some reason
he enjoyed Manowar.
At the time, early 1986, I had reached the conclusion that the usage of
the satanic topic for lyrics was a waste of time. We weren't Satanists.
I was no Satanist. We knew absolutely nothing about that. Only when I
started to read everything that I could find on the subject did I reach
the conclusion that it was all a fake. Satanism was a product of
So I looked around for other things to write about. Had we been a
Japanese act, we would probably have been picking up the Samurai period.
Had we been Italian, we would probably have picked up the Roman era. We
happened to be Swedish and I thought that the Vendel period and the
Viking age of Swedish history was an interesting subject well worth
trying. So I explained that I was going to phase out the occult lyrics
and phase in the Nordic stuff.
Around that time, one day in the rehearsal place, I played this guitar
riff and he picked it up with a heavy peculiar beat. We realized
immediately that it suited the new topics very well. He explained to me
that this was an ordinary basic Manowar beat. By that time we didn't
think too much about it. It wasn't like we listened to Manowar and said
we wanted to do just that. On the contrary, had we felt that using the
Nordic topic writing about swords and dragon ships was going to be too
close to Manowar, it would never have happened out of fear for being
called Manowar clones. The memory of being called Venom clones was still
Hmmmmm.... pretty strange co-incidences have been happening lately at
the very front of new (metal) album releases... -eh! Pay attention to
such album titles as "Unholy Terror" by W.A.S.P., "God
Hates Us All" by SLAYER and last but not least "Destroyer of
Worlds" by BATHORY. Ain´t this pretty damn ironic, y´know,
knowing what happened both in New York and Washington D.C. last month? I
only know that none of the bands wasn´t prepared to name their albums
on purpose by such "hitting" titles ´coz those cowards behind
these terrorist attacks had their master plans available for the public first if I may put it this way...
You only make that connotation due to recent events. We
could spend an entire evening coming up with song titles and album
titles that fit perfectly with any event.
Everyone should know by now where the name of BATHORY originally came
from for the name of your band - and keeping that Hungarian noble
woman´s name in our minds within my next question, have you ever
given a thought of making a real concept album ´bout the "Blood
Countess" herself? Wouldn´t that be considered as a worth thinking
idea or what?!
No. I would rather spend the time writing an ordinary album
so to speak. Everybody knows about Elizabeth Bathory and her story
anyway. I would have to duplicate myself genetically to have the time to
do everything that people ask from me. People want me to write a truly
classic Black Metal album because of the very prolific recent Black
Metal scene. Some beg me to write a continued story for "Hammerheart".
Other wants "BLOOD ON ICE" part two. Some even asks for a
third solo album. So I would have very little time writing an entire
album based on her life. We did one track on her many years ago. That
should be enough.
What I find extremely extraordinary is an unwritten fact that BATHORY
has stayed loyal to its own label BLACK MARK since the very 1st sunbeams
of BATHORY´s history. Where´s your loyalty based on indeed? How come
can you explain that? Because I´m
very positive that during all these years that BATHORY has existed,
there must have been a number of labels around the globe that have
proposed to you to sign of a contract with them. But... you have stayed
with BLACK MARK for all these years!!? Are you married with the label
faithfully unto death... "´til death do us apart", kind of... ?!
Black Mark didn't exist when we released our first album.
Black Mark formed in 1991 and our first release on Black Mark was
"Twilight of the Gods". We have stayed with Black Mark because
they give us 100% freedom. Sure we have been asked to sign with other
labels but we have never even given it a split second of a thought.
When we released our first album, I just came up with the idea to draw a
label carrying the goat head to give the impression that we had a
company of our own behind us.
The company that had helped us doing the first album was called Typhoon.
When Black Mark was formed in 1991, with some people from the Typhoon
days, they didn't have a name for the label and I simply just gave them
the name Black Mark.
If BATHORY should have signed with any of the really big labels that
showed interest over the years, we would eventually only end up to be a
number in a catalogue. We know that on Black Mark, we are their first
babies and that we will always be their number one act.
I have always wanted BATHORY to keep that underground feel. With Black
Mark, it feels that we have control of the situation and we are very
Any plans to put together a BATHORY box-set in the coming years,
featuring rare, never before-heard takes of some unreleased material
from BATHORY´s past and present...
There is plenty of material in the archives that hasn't
been released yet. We recorded 4 tracks in the summer of 1983 of which
two tracks ("You Don't Move Me I Don't Give a Fuck" and
"Die In Fire") has been released on "Jubileum" CD's.
We also recorded 6 tracks for a EP in 1984 just before the first album
of which two tracks has been released on the "Jubileum"
volumes ("Witchcraft" and "Satan My Master").
Additionally we recorded 8 tracks in the autumn of 1984 just after our
first album for an LP called "Maleficarum" that was never
completed or released. None of these tracks has ever been used on any
We recorded almost an entire Black/Death Metal album, entitled "Occulta",
way back at the end of 1985 after "The Return…" which was
left incomplete and thus has never been released. None of these tracks
has ever been used on any release.
We had several sessions between 1986 and 1988 that went under the name
"Valhalla", which was never completed. Some of that material
was re-recorded for "Hammerheart".
Around the same time we worked on a concept album "BLOOD ON
ICE" which we completed and released in 1996.
Just before recording the "Hammerheart" album, in the summer
of 1989, we began a session that went by the working title
"Requiem". None of the material recorded during this session
was ever used except for a couple of tracks released on the Jubileum
CD's. The "Requiem" album that was recorded and released in
1993 only had the same title and none of its material was from the
"Requiem" of 1989.
From the session that resulted in my first solo album, there are three
tracks that never ended up on the released "Album".
There are also these two tracks recorded during the "Octagon"
session that has never been released.
There has to be a reason for putting a box set out. You just don't do it
because it's Wednesday or nice weather outside. Of course a box set
would include a lot of goodies and we have talked about putting a box
set out one day. But there has to be a very specific reason indeed for
doing something like that. Perhaps when BATHORY is no more.
Well, first of all, I wanna thank you for all your efforts for making
this interview possible for METAL-RULES.COM. A HELL OF A GREAT WORK from
you there. So many sincere thanks for being so in-depth and devoted for
my (partly silly?!) questions here and I´m wishing you all the best
with BATHORY ´til the end of the world. If there´s still something
you´d like to add to this chat, then feel free to use the rest of the
space just for that purpose - THANK YOU!!!
Well at least you didn't ask me if it is true that I died
after "Twilight of the Gods" which some rumors had it. I hope
that you are pleased with the answers. It always feels great to be able
to talk about other things than eating babies, drinking blood and shit
As a suiting end, I would like to take the opportunity to praise the
BATHORY fans. You are the best. You are all a part of BATHORY and
everything that BATHORY has ever been and ever will be is for you and
because of you all. HAIL THE HORDES!
©2001 Metal Rules!!